And there you were thinking you only need to get your camera out once you get to your destination, and that the airport was only the bit you need to suffer to get to the other side? Think again, on both counts. Here are five airports that’ll make you want to crack the camera out for the building alone – they’ve all been designed by star architects.
London Heathrow Terminal 5
Richard Rogers’ latest airport project, following on from the huge success he had with Madrid Barajas (see below), T5 (and its two mini-me satellite buildings) is a glorious undulating wave of a building – and the fact that it’s made almost entirely of glass means that it’s flooded with natural light. There’s plenty of seating and good options for shopping and food (including Gordon Ramsey’s Plane Food restaurant). It serves only British Airways flights, though, so you’re slightly limited in terms of options.
Madrid Barajas Terminal 4
The project that won Richard Rogers a repeat airport gig with Heathrow, he designed the mammoth (eight million square feet) T4 in Madrid along with Antonio Lamela. Again, it’s a mass of undulating ceilings and spaces kept as open as possible – think deliberately visible structural aspects and as few unnecessary walls as possible, making it almost like the airport Gaudi would have designed. No wonder it’s won awards.
Beijing Terminal 3
Like his fellow British architect Richard Rogers, Norman Foster has a couple of airports under his belt. His airy, glass-fronted Stansted airport in Essex (London’s main budget airline hub) may have been eclipsed by T5 as London’s newest kid on the block, but his Terminal 3 at Beijing Airport is up there with the best. Not only is it huge – bigger than Heathrow’s terminals combined – but it’s an awesome blend of traditional Chinese and modern architecture.
Kansai International Airport, Osaka
So bright you can see it from space (for real) – Kansai is built on a self-contained, manmade island in Osaka Bay. The airy, open plan structure is the work of Renzo Piano, who was also responsible for the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the new wing of the Chicago Art Institute. It’s so highly thought of in the business that it was named one of the top ten Engineering Monuments of the Millennium by the US Society of Civil Engineers and the fourth best airport in the world by Skytrax.
Denver International Airport
Denver’s designers, Fentress Architects, may not be up there with the Rogers, Calatravas and Fosters of the design world, but they’ve done a pretty good job on Denver International Airport. Not only is it green – it has its own solar generator on site – but it’s a looker, too – the roof looks just like the Rocky Mountains (which serve as backdrop to the building).
What airport would you add to this list? Share your comments below.