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Mactan Airport Defeats The World’s Best Airport In International Architecture Awards

The Mactan Cebu International Airport’s new Terminal 2 wins another international award, this time besting Singapore’s Jewel Changi

The Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) Terminal 2 has been a source of pride for the Filipinos ever since it was inaugurated in June 2018. It has since received global praise and attention, thanks to its ingenious and sleek design that showcases the strength and beauty of local talent and materials.
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Last February, MCIA again claimed fame when it defeated Singapore’s Jewel Changi, touted as the “best airport in the world,” at the World Architecture Festival 2019. MCIA Terminal 2 won the “Completed Buildings-Transport” category, besting Singapore’s Jewel Changi Airport; Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Station and HZMB Port Passenger Clearance Building; Taiwan’s Tainan Bus Station; and Australia’s Barangaroo Ferry Wharf, Caulfield to Dandenong Level Crossing Removal, and Mernda Rail Extension.
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According to the notes by the award-giving body, they chose to give the victory to Mactan Airport because it was a “simple and elegant new airport that uses many locally sourced materials. It is integrated into the local area through the development of a local hub and a landscape plan. The internal spaces are light and uncluttered... It is clearly popular with the local community and this established a memorable travels experiences.”

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In a report by ABS-CBN News, Winston Shu, principal architect of the International Design Associates (IDA), said that unlike the Jewel that required a $1.25-billion price tag, the judges commended  Mactan Airport for its “economy in manufacturing,” which means it can be achieved with fewer resources compared to others. They also called the airport “very confident, yet very modest.”


MCIA T2 was built in collaboration with renowned Filipino firm BUDJI+ROYAL Architecture+Design headed by Budji Layug and Royal Pineda, and internationally acclaimed industrial designer Kenneth Cobonpue, who hails from Cebu. It was constructed by Filipino-Indian consortium Megawide-GMR in 2016 and opened for operations in 2018.


The design of Terminal 2 very much alludes to local materials and aesthetics, made with glue-laminated timber that’s joined by thousands of smaller wooden ribs to form a skeletal structure. The interiors and exteriors showcase a clever marriage of wood and metal, with the generous use of white light and tiles. With Mactan International as one of the gateways to the white sand beaches of Cebu and its surrounding islands in the Visayas region, Terminal 2 channels this message by featuring a wave-shaped roof and wooden arches that look like an inverted boat hull.

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Apart from its inspired design that alludes to the character of the city it represents, Shu said that the Terminal 2 also won the award because it features a design that is “capable of future extension.”


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This is not the first time that Mactan Airport was recognized by an international award-giving body. Last year, it received three awards, including the Asia Pacific Medium Airport of the Year at the CAPA Aviation Awards for Excellence. Locally, it was also received the Ani ng Dangal Award from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), which celebrates Filipino artistry in the global stage.