The New Terminal Area (NAT), designed by a consortium of Richard Rogers Partnership, the Spanish practice Estudio Lamela and two engineering companies TPS and Initec, will establish Madrid as a major European hub, and consolidate its position as the focal connection between Europe and Latin America. It is expected that the new terminal will accommodate between 65 and 70 million passengers per annum. Passenger numbers are expected to outstrip Schiphol in the Netherlands, Europe's second largest airport, in five years time. With a total area of 1,200,000 sq m, the NAT is one of the largest buildings in Europe and will have a significant urban, economic and social impact on both Madrid and Spain itself.
Madrid Barajas Airport opened in 1933 and was subsequently extended several times. By the early '90s, the existing airport had become over-stretched and the need for a terminal, satellite, ancillary buildings and two new runways in the north-west was identified. The client, the Spanish National Airports Authority (AENA) initiated an international competition which was won by a consortium of Richard Rogers Partnership, the Spanish practice Estudio Lamela and two engineering companies TPS and Initec in 1997. The design was chosen for it simplicity, adaptability and flexibility, allowing for future changes and extensions.