New Mactan-Cebu Airport terminal built of Wood

Mactan-Cebu Airport Terminal 2

Mactan-Cebu Airport soon receives a new terminal building. This wouldn’t rock, but the fact that the building will be made of glued wood – glulam – is an absolute novelty in South East Asia. 

The new Mactan-Cebu Airport terminal

Rubner timber receives a major order in Southeast Asia. The second largest airport in the Philippines, the Mactan Cebu International Airport, will be expanded by 2018 and supplemented by a new terminal. This represents the Austrian timber construction specialist on a special kind of challenge: sheet support glulam form the wavy barrel roof-supporting structure for the modern building with 65,000 m² area. Altogether, 4,500 m³ glulam are to be prepared in Austria, then shipped and already mounted under the direction of Rubner timber in Lapu Lapu City on Mactan Island from November.
By March 2017, the timber should be finished so the new terminal can be opened on schedule. The project is a double novelty: "This is the largest contract for a glulam construction in the company's history of Rubner timber" explains project manager Anton Wanas. At the same time there is no other airport building in Asia, which was completely made of glulam.

This is a translation of an article in German language from “Die“.


Glued laminated timber, also called glulam, is a type of structural timber product comprising a number of layers of dimensioned timber bonded together with durable, moisture-resistant structural adhesives. The high strength and stiffness of laminated timbers enable glulam beams and arches to span large distances without intermediate columns, allowing more design flexibility than with traditional timber construction. The size is limited only by transportation and handling constraints.
Timber has a good strength to weight ratio in comparison with steel and concrete. If you consider equivalent beam sizes for the same load bearing capacity in glulam and steel, glulam has approximately 1.5 – 2 times the strength to weight ratio of steel. 

Globe of Science and Innovation CERN Geneva Hockey Stadium in Davos
Globe of Science and Innovation at the CERN in Geneva Hockey Stadium in Davos

Climate challenge

The warm and humid climate in the Philippines is a real challenge for Rubner Holzbau. The company’s 90 years experience is still limited to Europe with a different climatic challenges. On the other hand the wood industry in Malaysia is (still cautiously) promoting glulam in a similar climate as the Philippines. The problems are multiple. While in Europe temperatures from -30 to +35 degrees must be mastered, her in the Philippines constructions face high humidity, saltwater and extreme wind forces. Just imagine Pablo or Yolanda racing over the wave formed roof of the new terminal.

High humidity shouldn’t be a great problem. We’ve tested over 9 years a piece of Europe made melamine-faced chipboard. It is out on our veranda but protected from direct rain. In 9 years it didn’t suffer from the local climate. Wood and glue are similar to the ones used in the proposed glulam construction. Our board did not change a bit. Moisture and heath and insects didn’t harm it.

Again the Indians

When the Indians from Philippine Megawide Construction Corporation and Bangalore-based GMR Infrastructure manage a project, positive surprises are programmed (see also: “Mactan–Cebu International Airport: when the Indians clean up“).  It will be interesting to visit Mactan-Cebu Airport this winter when the Austrians build the new terminal. Time span will be November 2016 to March 2017.

With the new capacities by 2018 Mactan-Cebu Airport will be able to take over many flights from congested Manila NAIA. At this very moment Manila has 70% delayed flights with an average of 27 minutes. Cebu has all flights on time!


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