Hajj Terminal

The Hajj Terminal at the King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah is located approximately 68km west of the city of Mecca. It sits on ninety square Kilometers in the desert where temperatures often reach fifty two degrees Centigrade. The building was completed in 1982.

The Hajj Terminal serves almost one million pilgrims from all over the Muslim world who visit Mecca during a six-week period once every year. The capacity of the terminal at any one time is about 50,000 people for a period of up to 18 hours during arrival and 80,000 for periods of up to 36 hours during departure. 

It is adjacent to the main terminal building, with minimum walking distance for the pilgrims from the planes to the air-conditioned terminal where all formal processing and baggage handling is done. The pilgrims proceed into the naturally ventilated support area where they will organize for travel by land to Mecca.

The roof is a fabric tension structure that covers more area (40.5 hectares) than any roof in the world. Twenty-one tent units, each 45 meters square, form a single module. The terminal is comprised of 10 such modules. The layout is in two identical five-module sections separated by a landscaped mall. Under each module are facilities for the pilgrim to rest, sleep and buy or prepare their own food. Washing and toilet facilities have been provided in each module as well as shops, banking and postal facilities, airline, bus and taxi, and general information support services.

The two terminal sections each comprise a total of 105 tents. The tents are hooked to steel rings hung from suspension cables which are draped from single pylons in the interior of the module, from ladder-like double pylons at the module edges and from four-pylon towers at the corners.

The form and height of the fabric roof units promote circulation of air from the open side of the support area up to and through the open steel tension ring located at the top of the roof unit. Acoustical problems created by the many thousands of pilgrims are diminished due to roof height and material.

The fabric roofs provide shelter from intense desert heat. Because the fabric has a low heat transmission, it allows the sun to cast a warm light over the support area; at night, uplights bounce light from the roof to the ground.

Recipient of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture 1981-83 Cycle, for “the brilliant and imaginative design of the roofing system (which) met the awesome challenge of covering this vast space with incomparable elegance and beauty."