Penang International Airport   Penang, Malaysia

Part of an interdisciplinary team, Grimshaw took part in a design competition for the International Terminal expansion at Penang International Airport. The third busiest airport in Malaysia, it handled over 6.5 million passengers per annum in 2018. The upgrade and expansion of the terminal building aimed to increase capacity to 12 million passengers.


Grimshaw’s design response proposes a holistic, robust and vibrant terminal environment centred around four core objectives; ‘provide additional capacity’, ‘make operations more efficient’, ‘improve passenger experience’ and ‘create a quality shopping destination’.

The design team considered the terminal expansion as a segregated element from the existing building to ensure maximum flexibility and efficiency in construction.

Siting of the build optimises airfield operations and aircraft turn-around times.The new terminal provides six new contact gates giving direct access off the international pier.

Ground transport facilities with over-site development of hotels, commercial and retail, a new air traffic control tower and a new apron rescue firefighting station complete the precinct.

A new active public realm forms the ‘heart’ of the reconfigured terminal precinct, and is devised as a space to facilitate connectivity, orientation and wayfinding between international and domestic flows. The pedestrian-centred approach and scale of the plaza celebrates the tropical climate and conveys a strong sense of ‘Penang’ identity.

The large-span, prefabricated modular roof of the new International Terminal is inspired by contextual patterning and textures and can be readily expanded and duplicated for future expansion. The design is responsive to climate, with tree-columns and roof apertures that filter natural light and manage rainfall.

Integrated with native planting, the sheltered outdoor space provides a platform for active uses reminiscent of the city’s downtown area, the vibrant market shopping and food culture.

Penang, Malaysia

Project Type
Aviation →

GDP, Mott MacDonald, Walrus, Ramboll, Rider Levett Bucknall, Robert Bird Group

Malaysian Transport Ministry and Malaysian Airports Holdings Berhad