15 April 2012
Airports have come a long way since their humble functional beginnings as portals to faraway lands. We usually associate them with long waits, utilitarian appearance, queues and intrusive security frisking. But some of our airports have evolved past this overt obedience to function and in an act of artistic defiance have bowed down to cutting-edge architecture, design and aesthetics. These structures are more than just airports.
DENVER INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, COLORADO
Denver International’s distinctive white Teflon coated, pyramid shaped canopies have been aesthetically designed to be reminiscent of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains that sit quietly behind the airport. During the construction of this beautiful airport, a portion of the budget was set aside for art, which now abounds throughout, in temporary exhibits and numerous public art displays. Outside the airport a 32 foot blue cast-fiberglass sculpture of a mustang with red shining eyes pierces the sky between the inbound and outbound lanes. The creator of the sculpture, Luis Jimenez, died while creating the Mustang, when the head of it fell on him and severed an artery in his leg.
INCHEON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, SOUTH KOREA
Not only is this airport one of the most efficient, voted the best airport in the world by the Airports Council International from 2006-2010, it is also an architectural wonder and a masterful piece of design. What’s more, the airport has a golf course, spa, private sleeping rooms, ice-skating rink, casino, indoor gardens and a Museum of Korean Culture. Long, tedious bouts in the departure lounge are a thing of the past at Incheon International Airport.
TORONTO PEARSON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, CANADA
The design aesthetic of this stunning airport has its emphasis in transparency and natural light which pours in through the sky-lit vaulted ceilings that run the entire length of the piers. This abundance of natural light creates a bright and airy atmosphere. The airport also has a strong artistic leaning, showcasing exhibits of art, design, history, science and popular culture which are rotated on a regular basis.
TWA TERMINAL AT JFK, NEW YORK
The TWA terminal at JFK Airport is winsomely abstract and futuristic in its design, with its huge sweeping curves, wide glass windows and red carpeted tunnels. Designed by Eero Saarinen in 1962 the terminal was one of the first airport architectural masterpieces and has inspired many around the world today. Saarinen described the idea behind the design of the terminal as, ‘A building in which the architecture itself would express the drama and specialness and excitement of travel.’
SONDICA INTERNATIONAL, BILBOA, SPAIN
Inspired by nature, the visually striking architectural design of this sculptural airport is a homage to aviation, resembling a bird taking flight, giving rise to its nickname, La Paloma, meaning the Dove. Sondica is an aerodynamic piece of infrastructure and somewhat of a structural masterpiece. Here, style and design meet and merge with function in one of the most awe-inspiring airports in the world.
CHANGI AIRPORT, SINGAPORE
Terminal 3 of Changi Airport is outstandingly beautiful with its unique butterfly roof architecture consisting of 919 skylights with specially designed reflector panels which allow soft natural light into the building while keeping the tropical heat out. At night, the skylights cast a warm glow of artificial light throughout the capacious terminal. The terminal is also home to a five-storey high vertical garden, called The Garden Wall, which is covered with climbing plants and features four cascading waterfalls.