After the preparation of the construction site, excavation work was started a few weeks ago for the construction of the Connector: a new building, as announced previously, that will connect the departure hall of Brussels Airport to Pier A. Once completed, the new building will make a world of difference in terms of passenger experience and comfort. With this Brussels Airport will be back among the top of European airports. Connector represents an investment of € 71 million, the largest investment since the construction of Pier A in 2002.
The building will be used for all passengers departing from Brussels Airport. After passing the automated access control to the Connector, passengers then find themselves in the first part of the building where a spacious screening platform is located for security checks. These security checks will be faster in the Connector, with more comfort and with a unique view of the airport activity. After the security check, the passengers separate according to their destination: outside or inside of the Schengen area. As before, non-Schengen passengers will use Pier B where they will be submitted to an identity check by the Federal Police, while Schengen passengers follow an escalator down to the lower level of the Connector with a wide range of walkthrough shops, restaurants, bars and seating areas with view of the outside. This space connects seamlessly to the departures gates level in Pier A.
The Connector is not an isolated building and certainly not a stand-alone project: it connects Pier A with the terminal. The areas where the new building connects to Pier A on one end and to the terminal on the other will be given an extensive facelift. Thus the northern part of the departure hall will be completely renovated with a tarmac view. Here too, there will be a renewed range of new bars, restaurants and shops, which are also available for non-passengers. Some weeks ago a new Exki restaurant was opened as a first step in this process. The thorough renovation of this area is scheduled to be completed in the second quarter of 2014. The second stage, the opening of Connector and the adjacent area in Pier A is scheduled for the first quarter of 2015. The connection to Pier B is scheduled six months later.
The most important reason for the Connector is user comfort. There will be far fewer vertical movements with escalators and lifts than we have currently. On the entire itinerary from the departure hall to the gate in pier A, the departing passengers only have to take one escalator that goes down one level; for passengers using pier B, both arriving and departing, there is no need to change levels. Also the feeling of being in a tunnel will be a matter of the past: the wide, open space offered by the Connector allows an abundance of natural light to enter on both sides of the roof, with direct sunlight being filtered and reflected.
The environment will be given special attention during the construction. The abundant natural light reduces the need for artificial lighting, which will be based as far as possible on LED technology. The cooling and heating systems use heat recuperation, and the building will be thermally insulated to a high standard (K20). Rainwater is stored in water tanks with a capacity of 670,000 litres for sanitary use.
Following various preparatory activities, the work on the foundations started last month. The construction work will conclude in 2014, and then the finishing and the installation of the airport-specific facilities will take place. Passengers will be able to use the Connector as from the first quarter of 2015.
Various videos show an artist's impression of the Connector, both from the outside and inside. They are publicly available on YouTube: search for "Connector" and "Brussels Airport".