Case Studies

TAG Farnborough Airport - Passenger Terminal

Ready for take-off




As part of our remit for our client MERO-SCHMIDLIN (UK) PLC, Front Elevation are re-visiting some of their past portfolio to carry out retrospective Case Studies. Having completed the TAG Farnborough Control Tower featuring cladding and glazing designed and installed by MERO-SCHMIDLIN we have now finalised the Passenger Terminal.


TAG Farnborough Airport RS1

TAG Farnborough Airport Passenger Terminal - The very innovative TAG Farnborough Airport Passenger Terminal designed by 3D Reid Architects and with Mill Finish Aluminium Cladding and Glazing by MERO-SCHMIDLIN


The transition in turning a former MOD airbase into an airport was always going to be a challenge however when the intended project is for one of Europe's leading brands and the clientele will be exclusively business aviation, it layered another dimension on to an already challenging brief. This doesn't take into account that the TAG Farnborough Airport was already up and running during construction, making the build slightly more complicated.

The lack of facilities in the existing Control Tower had made that buildings replacement an absolute priority in the whole transition as it wasn't able to cope with the increased level of incoming and outgoing flights. The programme involved the construction of a 'family' of Three buildings resulting in the Control Tower being constructed first followed by Hangars and the Passenger Terminal.


TAG Farnborough Airport RS2 By Front Elevation

TAG Farnborough Airport - Control Tower. Designed by 3D Reid Architects with Mill Finish Aluminium Cladding & Glazing by MERO-SCHMIDLIN -This was the first project on site and very much a blueprint for the Passenger Terminal

Image by Paul Scott -


TAG, Techniques d'Avant-Garde to give them the full title are a private Luxemburg based conglomerate who in addition to their Moet Hennessy and Louis Vuitton brands, own private aviation fleets and are well known for producing TAG-Heuer precision time-pieces and of course their association with Formula One Motor Racing sponsoring the McLaren team. The branding surrounding the client was all-important with regards to the design of the buildings as not only does TAG stand for precision and leading edge design, they are looking to attract the elite of the business aviation market to Farnborough.


The order in which the buildings were constructed had a range of benefits to the passenger terminal with regards to product specification and build programme. The architects, 3D Reid, were given the task of designing the whole family of buildings to represent the precision and quality design ethos of the TAG brand, starting with the first priority, the Control Tower. As such the tower was a blueprint with respect to speed of build, aesthetics and of course cost. The tower design had arrived via a rather unconventional route as various high speed and hi-tech options had been considered including the prestige boat building manufacturers. Given the aviation theme the brief was to have the building envelope covered with a smooth, seamless, skin. This proved incredibly problematic but when bringing MERO-SCHMIDLIN onboard a design was worked up to achieve the brief with regards to looks, build programme, robustness and of course cost. Having arrived at a cladding design template that had worked on the control tower it made sense to attempt to replicate this with the Passenger Terminal and the client agreed.


TAG Farnborough Airport RS3 MSUK

TAG Farnborough Airport Passenger Terminal - The design involved a very lightweight wing shaped upper body which appears to float above the ground as much of the ground level is glazed at the aircraft apron elevation. The whole building apparently weighs around 350 tonnes which is less than a Boeing 747 ready for take off.


The innovative design for the Passenger Terminal consisted of a relatively simple steel frame consisting of primary steelwork in a hoop format supporting purlins on which the diamond shaped shingles could be fitted directly. The use of individual mill finish aluminium shingles gave the smooth seamless look, from a distance, but also offered a very practical robust material choice which was quick to fit and very adaptable for achieving the aerodynamic profiles required. The use of individual elements proved cost effective in installation but also allows each piece to be replaced if damaged.

Any problems with regards to design and installation had been overcome at design stage with MERO-SCHMIDLIN's expertise in bespoke building envelope manufacturing and installation. With their experienced design teams in the UK and mainland Europe, bespoke building projects of this stature are almost run of the mill. Having ironed out any potential problems at design stage and having used the Control Tower as a prototype it was obvious to everyone involved that the Passenger Terminal should follow suit with regards to contractor team and product specification.

The terminal design had been conceived as a 'wing' appearing to hover over the landscape and cranked in the middle to maximise visibility over the flight apron. The architects rather modestly described it as "a simple box bent in the middle". It is however far more sculptural and dynamic in its aviational form curved in both planes. As with the Control Tower the use of the shingles, 25,000 in all, has allowed the curves and sweeps of the architects design to be exactly replicated on the building without compromise. The extensive use of bespoke frameless glazing at ground level does indeed achieve the illusion that the aluminium clad upper body of the building does levitate and whilst at close quarters the detail of the individual shingles is apparent, as with the control tower, from a distance the form appears completely smooth.


TAG Farnborough Airport RS6 by Front Elevation

TAG Farnborough Airport Passenger Terminal - From the apron the architects have achieved the wing profile and indeed from a distance the building does seem to levitate. The 25,000 Mill Finish Aluminium Shingles and Frameless Glazing was designed and installed by MERO-SCHMIDLIN.Image by Paul Scott


In addition to being a stunning piece of architecture winning plaudits all over the world, it is a very practical building in every sense. From the cladding which is 100% recyclable, low maintenance, easily repaired and copes with the curvature and building tolerances to the interior space, everything is incredibly functional. From the triple height reception area to the public cafe, the building is light and airy offering a very relaxing environment to the thousands of passengers about to depart to various glamorous destinations in their executive jets. The passenger lounges are complimented by very comfortable meeting facilities allowing business meeting to take place prior to the participants jetting back to their offices. The ends of the wing are left 'open' giving the opportunity for glazed areas letting light flood into the building. The open ends have been very cleverly clad to produce a very distinctive architectural feature which like the rest of the building is completely functional. At one end the offices lead out to a first floor covered balcony with the opposite end being developed in a similar fashion for a public area. This end contains a cafe providing a covered terrace on the first floor with the ground floor flowing out onto a paved terrace.


TAG Farnborough Airport RS6 MSUK

TAG Farnborough Airport Passenger Terminal - The open ends of the building are very much a feature. In addition to very intricate steelwork, bespoke cladding and glazing they are designed to maximise light into the building and be used for recreational space.


From a construction perspective it is possible to think that because of the client and branding (their Monaco V4 watches sell for around £80,000) that this was 'no expense spared'. It was however a very cost effective set of buildings with regard to materials and build. The client adopted the same level of precision to this project as to their branding and a construction management team was assembled to micro-manage every aspect from H&S to the supply chain. This approach enabled the client very high levels of understanding and control and resulted in a finished project which had all of the benefits of a bespoke construction without the excessive perceived costs of a 'made-to -measure' structure.


TAG Farnborough Airport RS5 by Front Elevation

TAG Farnborough Airport Passenger Terminal - The completed 'Open End' features a Cafe with a covered terrace and very intricate Bespoke Cladding & Glazing by MERO-SCHMIDLIN 

Image by Paul Scott


TAG Farnborough Airport RS7 MSUK

TAG Farnborough Airport - As each of the 25,000 Mill Finish Aluminium Shingles needed to be hand fitted, particular attention was given to access and H&S.



Because of the shape of the building, and the fact that the shingles needed to be hand fixed, great attention was paid to access and Health & Safety. It is testament to the whole team and site management that the project was completed without incident or reportable lost days.


Paul Green, Project Architect 3D Reid


MERO-SCHMIDLIN assisted with the facade concept on the control tower to such an extent that the terminal building was almost a continuation therefore presenting very few technical challenges on installation. As with the previous projects the terminal building was achieved within budget and programme.


From 3D Reid Architects perspective the Farnborough project has been a blueprint foe aviation buildings. So much so that we now have an aviation division with projects literally all over the world. When showing prospective clients our Aviation building portfolio, Farnborough is always the project that attracts their attention.


Paul commented "MERO-SCHMIDLIN are on our tender list and get the opportunity to quote for any project we feel that requires their specialist bespoke facade ability. As architects it is always reassuring to know there are companies such as MSUK who have the technical ability to assist architects like 3D Reid so our architectural vision can be realised without compromise."




3D Reid Architects -


Front Elevation -






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