The existing airport was built in the1960s and has almost certainly outgrown its capacity constraints. It is located in the center of the city, approximately 1.5km southeast of the main commercial area. The airport site itself is approximately 4.8km in length, 0.5km in width at its narrowest point, and covers an area of approximately 426hectares. When the airport was originally built it was on the southern boundary of the city as it stood at that time. Ouagadougou has since experienced rapid urbanization and the airport is now surrounded by urban development. As a consequence of the country's rapid economic growth, the Burkinabe government has set down plans for the construction of the new airport facility (as part of its vision 2025 entitled Burkina 2025) capable of sustaining Burkina Faso's strong economic growth with the aim of making not just Ouagadougou a sub-regional hub, but Burkina Faso as a whole, a sub-regional aviation hub with emphasis on developing its largely untapped tourism potential. Following feasibility studies conducted by Lufthansa Consulting, the Burkina Faso Government has already identified a tract of land of size 4'400 hectares approximately 35 km north-east of Ouagadougou near the village of Donsin in the Central Plateau region where the new airport is to be built.
Having been awarded the design and implementation, which is set to take place in phases, France's ENIA Architects together with engineering by EGIS Batiments International were faced with the challenge of finding a coherent whole, perceptible at all scales and opposed to the particularities of each building and the evolution of the site over time. As part of the design concept, buildings had to express a common identity, be controlled in line with the precision of airport activities that are developed there, and be in agreement with the issues of representation of this exceptional state project.
The airport is the first and last place of exchange between the traveler and his land host; in essence, a large door and approach. From this point of view, the building needs to be prestigious and express the culture and identity of the city or the country it represents, just as a monument, a public place or an official building. At the same time, it is a symbol of technology and modernity, combined to show the economic development of the country or the city it represents.
Functional, environmental, design aesthetics and semiotic issues thus joined into a coherent and unitary project that takes possession of its territory in the re-qualifying. In a project that has both qualities of welcome and comfort of use out of the ordinary, the project recreates an urbanity that replaces that of downtown Ouagadougou.
In the manner of a city, the airport is fragmented into a multitude of different types of elements. Some buildings are exceptional: the terminal building, museum, hotel and such control tower. They require a specific and careful treatment because of the image of the airport associated with them. They only represent a small part of the project. The majority of buildings are technical or administrative buildings, more anonymous and discrete in nature. These constructions, widespread on the site, link up the project. Their unique architectural treatment, simple and homogeneous, gives coherence to the whole project and helps to highlight the exceptional buildings from the airport.
The design of the airport is guided by environmental concerns, while general layout of the buildings including the landing and take-off runway is strongly linked to the prevailing wind direction. To reduce energy consumption and thus the operating and maintenance costs, natural ventilation systems are available for a large number of buildings. They were planned for in the early phases of the project design and are well integrated into the architecture of the buildings.