Geneva Airport officially opens new public Terrace
Geneva Airport’s « Terrasse Panorama » was officially opened on Wednesday 22 September 2021. It offers an ideal viewpoint for the tarmac and since opening its doors at the end of June has already welcomed over 20,000 visitors.
The « Terrasse Panorama » was initially planned to mark the 100th anniversary of Geneva Airport in September 2020. Health restrictions resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic pushed its opening and inauguration back by a year. The event was finally able to take place on Wednesday 22 September 2021, with Serge Dal Busco, President of the State Council and State Councillor for the Department of Infrastructure, Corine Moinat, President of the Administrative Council of Geneva Airport, and André Schneider, Director General of Geneva Airport, in attendance.
Overlooking the tarmac, the The « Terrasse Panorama » offers an incredible view of the runway and the Jura chain in the background. Open since 24 June on the 4th floor of Terminal 1, over 20,000 people have already visited the terrace including not just plane spotters and passengers, but also people of Geneva too. André Schneider, Director General, explained, « Geneva Airport hasn’t had a public terrace since the 2000s. I am please to offer a new tourist attraction in the canton of Geneva and to the inhabitants of the region. This is a project which is very close to my heart. »
Serge Dal Busco, President of the State Council and State Councillor for the Department of Infrastructure stated, « This terrace provides a close up view of the complex mechanics of an airport. I am sure that our fellow citizens will recognise the important role played by Geneva Airport in the canton and further afield. »
Free of charge until the end of 2021, the terrace can be reached after passing through a specific security check. There is an on-site cafe which offers snacks and refreshments. Visitors can also access a projection room airing films on Geneva Airport and its century-old history!
Geneva Airport’s public terrace has a long history. From 1925, the airport provided platforms for visitors to admire the planes. These were subsequently re-sited as a result of architectural changes to the buildings.
The most symbolic of these dates back to the construction of the new terminal in 1968. This took the form of a 500 metre long balcony measuring 4 metres in width overlooking the cockpits of the planes just above the tarmac. Many French-speaking Swiss came and wandered as a family with children exploring this long corridor alongside the planes! Over the years, it became a significant tourist attraction.
In the 1970s, this terrace, which had no security checks, was ordered to be closed by the canton and federal authorities. Europe was facing the threat of aerial terrorism at the time and measures had to be taken to secure airports. The terrace reopened after a while with the installation of magnetic gates and a security check.
The work on the West Wing in the 2000s sealed the fate of the terrace. The airport is narrow and architectural constraints are abound. Geneva Airport closed its terrace. This was to last for some time: twenty years to be precise!
The « Terrasse Panorama »
Built on the roof of the Le Chef restaurant on the 4th floor of Terminal 1, the « Terrasse Panorama » offers an 800m2 area for observing the views. Damien Pellegrinello, Project Manager, stated « this location was chosen as it offers a 180° view of the tarmac. The configuration and narrowness of the buildings in Geneva Airport offered few other options. »
The Terrace can be accessed after passing through a specific security check via a suspended corridor. Architect Christian Dupraz wanted to offer a unique experience to visitors. The platform provides an incredible viewpoint over the tarmac with the Jura chain in the background. Plane-spotters can see the runway from end to end whilst its orientation also allows them to take beautiful pictures. The architect maintained the balcony concept and symbolic terraces from the 70s. At the ends of the platform there are two observation zones with free binoculars which allow visitors to see the moving planes up close. The outdoor space is beautifully adorned with local plants.
A Complex Project
Building a terrace in an active airport is a complex undertaking. Accesibility to the site was a major challenge with restricted deliveries due to the location of the working area. A mobile crane had to be installed on the tarmac in order to transport the metal structure for the terrace. Work was carried out at night to prevent air traffic interruption.
A Relaxing Spot
Free of charge until the end of the year, the « Terrasse Panorama » is open six days a week during peak season. Due to its proximity to the tarmac, smoking is not permitted. An on-site cafe offers snacks and refreshments. A metal pergola provides protection from rain and sun. Particular attention was paid to materials choices to provide visitors with an elegant meeting place.
Users can also access a projection room. Films focussing on Geneva airport, its history and activity are aired on a 6.45 by 1.52 metre screen.
Geneva Airport maintains its commitment to the environment. The new building meets the « very high energy performance » criteria. The roof is covered with 270 square metres of solar photovoltaic panels.
- Elevator at the Arrivals level of the main building (T1), 4th floor
- Entry after passing through a specific security check. Baggage not permitted (if you are traveling, please check-in beforehand).
- High season (1 May - 31 October): Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 7 pm (last entrance at 6 pm)
- Low season (1 November - 14 March): closed
- Midseason (15 March - 30 April): Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm (last entrance at 4 pm)