Malta International Airport

On Malta, NATURinFORM’s decks have ventured to change their perspective: Instead of lying underfoot, they are curved into the skies, above everyone’s heads – as airy canopies against the Mediterranean sun’s blinding light. Since the first pictures of the island state’s airport’s newly designed Observation Deck and the VIP Lounge’s Patio were published, the internationally renowned architects DeMicoli & Associates’ bold design has caused a positive stir. A total of 288 square metres of Upper Franconian NATURinFORM’s range NATURELINE was used. The company HAROBAU, the Italian sales partner, recommended using the robust wood composite material as a shade.

Patio decks
Natureline in oak brown as a solid deck

Construction year
Spring 2017

Type of construction
Sun decks at the Malta International Airport

Malta International Airport, Luqa LQA 4000, Malta

For the inhabitants of Malta it is not just a patio. When half the family is spread over the whole world, the place that everyone waves goodbye in gains a special meaning. Everyone here knows the ‘waving balcony’, the name locals gave the Observation Deck. And many also remember the historically important view across the runway when, as for example in the year in 2010 Pope Benedikt XVI, visited the island, and half of Malta squeezed onto the balcony. In the past, when you were waiting around up there in the scorching Mediterranean summer’s sun, you needed to be in a good mood, and have lots of water and a large parasol with you.

When the fully refurbished Observation Deck was reopened on the 6th of June after 10 months of construction, half the island was present once again. But this time quite without their own sun protection. Because now four slatted canopies protect everyone from too much light.

Shade just like a roof of leaves

The constructions made of white varnished steel and an oak brown wooden composite system stand diagonally on the 150 square metre large patio. There are always two solitary pillars with tree-top-like side supports, each of which shares the load of two nine-metre long, four-metre deep sun roofs. They are curved and slanted at the middle toaround 45 degrees against the sun.

The decks are mounted vertically, with gaps of around five centimetres each: This and the brown hue of the wood create an astounding effect: When you are standing here you feel as comfortable as if you were under an extravagant parasol pine tree’s leafy roof. You can watch individual sun rays dance between the warm wooden shadows. If you close your eyes you can almost believe the sound of the turbines is the sound of waves at the seaside.

Created like nature

NATURinFORM integrates nature. All the Bavarian wood processor’s products look and feel just like pure wood, but are actually enhanced to be technically weatherproof: The naturally beautiful fibres are combined with a thermoplastic polymer, and are therefore weatherproof in extreme locations, without requiring any varnishing or sanding. The polymer prevents humidity from penetrating the material – and what is even more important in Malta’s Mediterranean climate – it prevents tearing caused by the heat.

The product used here is NATURinFORM’s ‚Natureline‘ in oak brown, a solid, extruded, and fully coloured solid deck. It is worth having a second look at this deck’s surface: Just as any standard deck from a sawmill, each piece has its individual grain, its own way of playing with colours, and a surface structure you can definitely feel.The idea to use this wood composite material that is robust, yet at the same time very easy to process, came from the Italian company Harobau from South Tyrol who recommended it to the local wood processing company Chillischilli. Harobau has used wood composite material frequently in Italy where there are similar climatic conditions and was therefore able to highly recommend the material.

Tailor-made ex works

Furthermore, the fitters on site benefit from a special service: As soon as ten decks of the same kind are ordered, decks can be tailor-made for each project. At Malta’s airport, a total of 1,500 69-centimetre long profiles was used. Because there was no need to cut them to length,two patios could be fitted with a total of eight canopies within only fourweeks.

„Mounting the decks was really easy,“ says Alan Debattista from Chillischilli, the joiner company responsible for assembly. “Deck, screw, finished. Much easier than with a wooden deck on the ground, because the steel frame was already there when we arrived.”

The wood specialists decided to mount the striated lower side of the deck upwards, into the sky, as a draining aid for rare cases of rain. “Otherwise the decks really do look just like natural wood,” says Debattista, who worked with NATURinFORM’s products for the first time. “There is nothing that one would need to hide or cover during assembly.”

Heat protection and elegant patina included

Especially in extreme heat the wooden composite material offers a great advantage: The plastic component makes it elastic, so that in contrast to natural wood it cannot tear.Because NATURinFORM’s products consist to 70 percent of wooden fibres, wood still dominates the optical characteristics, despite its technical enhancement. Therefore, it is possible that patina can form naturally, caused by sunlight. But far more controlled than with pure wood: There are no blackish humidity spots, no sun-drained, bleached areas. Because colour particles are included in the melting process, the polymer cover protects them, too. The chosen colour remains permanently, it is merely enhanced by silver patina reflexes during the first four months outdoors.

Download: Press release
Product information: Natureline