Air Terminal of International Airport
Beira, Sofala, Mozambique
Equipment and Infrastructures
The original Pais Ramos Airfield was located at Esturro and opened to air traffic in 1928. In the late 1930s it was established on a 60 hectares area and comprised a small building which included a waiting room for passengers, customs and post office (inaugurated on September 1937); a metal hangar to house aeroplanes and runways, one in concrete and two in asphalt. It was finally closed on the 1st January 1961.
The issue of a new airfield was first broached during the drawing up of the Urbanization Plan of 1947. At the time experts considered that that airfield would have to be relocated to Alto da Manga, somewhere between the Savane and Macúti roads, as the Pais Ramos Airfield was located on a low-lying and clayey land, and its expansion would involve a number of demolitions and expropriations.
From 1952 onwards the major works of land removal would start at Manga-Loforte, aimed at the landfill for three strips designed for the new airport (11 km from the city) landing and takeoff runways. New works would also be executed in April 1956 including its enlargement and paving (main, 12-30, 2,000 metres long; the second, 18-36, 1,500 metres long; and the third, 06-24, 1,200 metres long) and, in 1965, with a further enlargement in order to receive jets (the main runway was 2,400 metres long and 60 wide).
The first air terminal resulted from the adaptation of some existing buildings being described in the Diário de Moçambique newspaper, on the 19th February 1956, pp. 1 and 12) thus: “The air station, set in an old rustic house located on one of the expropriated land plots, is an unworthy designation. It does not match the name of international airport nor does it meet the needs of the traffic, which is already significant. The front is surrounded by a narrow veranda covered with zinc, with half a dozen armchairs – trying to convey the idea of a waiting room; a door connects it to a gloomy and stuffy room – without ventilation or light – divided into a central office, custom house and immigration department, with a dirty counter and unpolished shelves in which a customs officer, an immigration agent and two employees of DETA (...) deal with the movement which sometimes reaches 50 passengers; next to it on a narrow balcony – the restaurant of the international airport of Manga!”. In February 1958, it was enlarged and two additional rooms were added at the back: a restaurant/bar, and facilities for the ground staff on duty.
The present day air terminal, designed by architect Cândido Palma de Melo (1922-2003) – who also executed the project for the air terminal of Maputo – is a long modern building with a striking jagged roofline. Construction began on June 1965. In October the works were already sufficiently advanced for the establish- ment of provisional services. Nevertheless, it was only inaugurated on the 27th June 1968. It covers an area of 7,000 square metres, with a wide concourse for airline services with access to a restaurant and bar that runs along the first floor balcony following the lines of the building. Transit passengers had access to another restaurant which was completely independent. The decoration of the restaurants and offices of the Beira Air Services and of the Mozambican Airlines was entrusted to architect José Augusto Moreira. It also has decorative panels by José Pádua. Sculptor Jorge Vasconcelos executed the statue of Sacadura Cabral that stands since 1972 in the square outside the air terminal.
The building runs longitudinally between the row of aircrafts and the car park and is connected to the former air terminal which has now been converted into a control tower. It consists of a repetition of three- dimensional structural modules set transversally, formalized by the pre-fabricated U-shaped paving stones and corresponding support pillars, creating a wide two-storey zone, pierced in the main entrance areas. The main elevations are distinguished by the strong play of light and shadow obtained by the balanced flagstones of the north elevation and by the flater character of the structural elements, the vertical window openings and brise-soleils, which form the south elevation.