Kansai Airport, Osaka, built on an artificial island

Milestone references – 70 years of nora floor coverings

From Weinheim to Osaka:
Cleared for take-off – precision landing for nora

“Because Kansai airport is built on an island, this project represented a very special challenge from a construction point of view. Our task was to develop a rubber flooring that was in no way inferior to the favoured stone of star architect Renzo Piano in terms of appearance.”


Dirk Oswald, Head of Product & Brand Management nora product lines

Kansai Airport, Osaka, Japan, with norament rubber flooring tiles imitate the look of the stone tiles which could not be installed because of their weight

Four kilometres long and 1,200 metres wide, this artificial island is made up of around 430 million cubic meters of clay. Located in the bay off the Japanese metropolis of Osaka, it was created to allow international flights to take off and land around the clock. Built in 1994, Kansai International Airport (KIX) was the world’s first airport to be constructed on a man-made island and is connected to the mainland by a 3.75 km access bridge. The terminal building is another special feature. At 1.7 km in length, it is the world’s longest structure of its kind and houses more than 160 restaurants, cafés and stores. The immense complex is the work of Italian master architect Renzo Piano. His splendid design curves elegantly alongside the runway and offers a spectacular welcome.

Almost 32 million people took off or landed at Kansai Airport in 2019 alone. Little wonder then that the design team chose a wear-resistant, durable, flame-retardant and easy-to-clean rubber flooring, which is still providing excellent service today. But it wasn't just the functional qualities that were decisive; the innovative spirit of the Weinheim-based company helped to convince Renzo Piano. Originally, he had planned to use his favoured stone tiles, but this was simply not feasible over such a large area. 40,000 m2 of solid stone was going to be too much weight for the island to bear. As a result, the structural engineers refused to implement his initial scheme. The sheer weight of the airport would have been too much and there was a real risk of the island sinking. Piano agreed to compromise but asked for a lighter, more robust floor that would look identical. After around 18 months of constant development, he got what he wanted. Based on the norament deco floor covering, the norament special design 22 perfectly imitated the originally planned terrazzo floor. Renzo Piano was happy and nora achieved a precision landing at Kansai Island Airport.

Project at a glance


Kansai International Airport (KIX), Osaka

Special feature:  
World's first island airport with bridge connection to the mainland
Renzo Piano
Installed area:  

40.000 mnorament deco, special design 22

© Photos:
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