Thursday, 28 May 2009

Beijing airport bags Building of the Year

Breaking news: Beijing Capital International Airport has just been named the Building of the Year by the UK’s architecture sector during the prestigious AJ100 survey and awards. Terminal 3 at the airport, designed by Foster + Partners, was selected unanimously as the winner from a shortlist of five buildings by the judging panel.

According to Dexigner.comthe judges were impressed by the airport's elegant form and light-filled interior, "which will create a memorable and inspiring environment for the 50 million passengers who will travel through the terminal by 2020.

"The jury felt that the new terminal building incorporates subtle references to Chinese architectural traditions, giving it a strong sense of place.

"Integrated public transport and short walking distances for passengers have also been carefully addressed in the design, and the jury also recognized the challenge of delivering such a technically complex building in this location.

The changing face of London City Airport

London's airports are much maligned. Over priced, over capacity and often overshadowed by sleeker hubs overseas. But that's because most passengers overlook (that enough over prefixes - ed) London City Airport, the modest European terminal situated in the City's regenerated former docklands. The recent extension to the Dockland's Light Railway, however, is helping revive the airport's fortunes.

Hidden Europe, a bi-monthly magazine with a sideways look at the art of travel, has published this thoughful short article on the changing face of Silvertown, the location of London City Airport.

Last time I went to Silvertown, about ten years ago, I travelled on a train that creaked and screeched on ancient tracks, skirting derelict docks and gaunt shells of long abandoned factories to reach a single railway platform just by the Albert Road post office. hidden europe returned to Silvertown yesterday, to find the nineteenth-century railway tracks replaced by a sleek modern light railway. The relentless redevelopment of London's docklands marches on to the east, engulfing the remnants of old working class communities with adventurous new office blocks, warehousing and chic riverfront apartments.

On my first visit to Silvertown, an old man on Albert Road who had worked for years as a yard gang foreman in the nearby Tate and Lyle factory, told me how, until he was twenty years old, he had never once travelled out of the docklands. The factory still stands, but most of the buildings around have been levelled in recent years, including the old Tate and Lyle front office which was embellished with a verse from the Old Testament: "Out of the strong came forth sweetness." A decent enough motto for a factory that produced golden syrup from sugar cane.

Rathbone Street market in Canning Town, just two stops up the train line from Silvertown, was the furthest most Silvertowners ever ventured. A Saturday special. Pie and mash at Mrs Olley's café followed by ice cream at Murkoff's were Canning Town treats before Silvertowners hopped back on the train for the short ride home. Silvertown catered to all everyday needs. It had a barber, a cinema, a Congregationalist chapel, Herringshaw's grocery store, and even - for those wanting to splash out - a place to take lunch in style: the Beehive Dining Rooms run by Michael Heaslip.

And Silvertown today? Barred and shuttered, a tiny community that lives on its memories and waits for the bulldozers. The post office has closed and no ships from the tropics ever arrive at the lifeless Tate and Lyle pier. Silvertown has new horizons - and no longer are they limited to a Saturday train ride to Canning Town. For nowadays Silvertown is home to London City Airport, which offers flights to some three dozen destinations across Europe. You can fly to Nice or Madrid but no longer can you buy a stamp and have a natter at the Albert Road post office.

Prince George's "wooden" terminal grabs award

Wood: simple, honest, lightweight, cheap and sustainable. It is undoubtedly the most underused and undervalued building material when it comes to air terminals. So it's nice that British Columbia's Prince George Airport has been rewarded for its excellence for innovation in architecture by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada for making good use of wood.

According to a report in the Prince George Citizen, the judges remarked that the terminal's "durability, sustainability, elegant detailing and cost were all weighed in the decisions to develop a simple natural palette for the building," while adding that the creation of "simple beautiful surfaces and minimalistic detailing," openness of the interior to the extensions, "stressed and enhanced by an elegant roof that appears to float. " In sum, they called it an "elegant creation in the context of normal cost constraints."

The effect is breathtaking: creating a seamless"indoor-outdoor" experience for travellers in the departure lounge. Prince George is one of the few airports in the world where it is common that bears and other wildlife wander just opposite the terminal and beyond the runway. Don't worry there's a thick layer of paw-proof glass, just in case the beasties get too close.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Sneak peak: Barcelona Terminal 1

huge, originally uploaded by popatrapat.

Barcelona's shiny shiny Terminal one - an extension to its main hub - is due to open on June 16. We've found a few pre-launch pix for you - and it looks HUGE. Designed by Ricardo Bofill, the new terminal will increase capacity in Barca's long overcrowded airport from 30m to 55m passengers annually and will stretch over 1.000,000 m2. You can see many more images here. What is immediately apparent is that the new terminal will serve as a minimalist counterpoint to Madrid's technicolour Barajas, which opened a couple of years ago.

"The design of the building combines an international, multicultural character with the luminosity and warmth of Mediterranean architecture. Its transparency allows natural light to flood into all public spaces and provides panoramic views of the runways, the sea and the natural landscape. By combining maximum functionality, local technology, respect for the environment and unique architecture, the new airport terminal will become an intercontinental hub, a reference and original prototype for forthcoming hubs in the rest of the world."

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Finntastic! Finnair's 40th anniversary reminds of the silver age of travel

Finnair remains one our favourite airlines. It's business class is second-to-none. But these pictures recently released to celebrate its 40th anniversary of its first flight to New York reveal that its heyday was the late 1960s when the companies embraced the futuristic, space-age aesthetic like no other.

(via the airline blog)

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Overheard at Honolulu

Tyler Brule in this weekend's Financial Times has recorded this rather amusing exchange between an irate customer and a saintly check-in agent from Hawaiian Airlines:

Serviceman no 1: Is this the check-in for Japan Airlines?
Nice lady from Hawaiian: No, this is the check-in for ANA, operated by Air Japan.
Serviceman no 2: So we can check-in for JAL here?
Nice lady from Hawaiian: No, that’s down the concourse. Just beyond those counters to the left.
Serviceman no 2: So why are there separate check-ins for the same flight?
Nice lady from Hawaiian: Ummmm ... there’s not. This is for ANA, operated by Air Japan. Japan Airlines is the other national carrier.
Serviceman no 1: You mean there’s an airline called Japan Airlines and another one called Air Japan? That’s really f**ked-up.
Nice lady from Hawaiian: Hard to believe, I know, but it’s true.
Serviceman no 2: But JAL and Japan Airlines are the same thing, right?

He adds: "I didn’t linger long enough to see if the pair made it beyond security, but it was one of those moments when you question whether passport applicants should have to pass some type of exam."

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Carrasco International: Montevideo's new superdome

The global recession may still be taking its toll, but it remains boom time for the world's airport enthusiasts. The latest opening to salivate over is the supremely space-age extension to Montevideo's
Carrasco International
, whose gleaming dome is due to open later this summer, a few months behind schedule. We are impressed by Rafael Viñoly dome-like structure, which seems to offer both an abundence of open and space and natural light. Another reason, if one were needed, to head to Uruguay's undervalued capital.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Is Yotel bound for San Francisco?

Rumours abound that Yotel, the European capsule chain, with branches in London Heathrow and Gatwick airports as well as Amsterdam Schiphol, is bound for its first stateside opening. The San Francisco Chronicle reported this morning: "The airport is seeking a concessionaire to build and operate what it calls "sleep units" in the International Terminal. SFO officials don't want a traditional hotel, but rather a collection of tiny rooms - like Japanese-style pod or capsule hotels - that fliers could rent for a couple of hours between flights.

Airports we love #3: Washington Dulles International

Some airports we love because they are so useable. Others, like Hong Kong, because they offer a consumer paradise. Washington's main hub, Dulles International, is none of these things. Indeed it can be a miserable experience to be delayed there (as the Terminalator was last year) but there's one thing that makes even a four-hour wait just just so bareable and that's the timeless architecture of Eero Saarinen with its huge sweeping roof looks as fabulous now as it did when it was opened in 1962.

"While Dulles remains a modern monument to the confluence of use and imagery... it is also handicapped by its uniqueness. No lessons flowed from this building because, apart from copying it, there was no way to expand its application. In the end Saarinen's was, like Wright's, an architecture of emotion applied to specific requirements and sites."

Carter Wiseman in Shaping a Nation, 1998

Face off: Standsted trials new biometric gates

Stansted Airport, on the outskirts of London, is encouraging its passengers travelling back to the UK to make use of "queue-busting" facial recognition technology at its arrivals gates.

The new system is open to any British or European passenger who has a new passport fitted with an electronic chip. Travellers simply have to stand in front of a machine that scans their face and checks the image against their passport photo before allowing them to pass through an automated gate.

Stansted Airport has been trialling the technology since December last year and there are plans to extend it to ten more UK terminals in August.

Inside South Korea's "ghost airports"

The mood may be buoyant at the Airport Show in Dubai but in South Korea many airports are empty and new developments are being postponed. BBC News has this interesting report from Yangyang International in the North East of the country which may enjoy the dubious honour of being the world's quietist.

One of its newest terminals, which cost almost US$400m to build, has not seen a single passenger in more than six months.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Pic of the Week: Munich Terminal II

A small child walks with his father down a deserted Terminal II in Munich. Or is it a snapshot from some unmade Stanley Kubrick movie. I dunno. If only every terminal was so splendidly isolated.

If you've a great airport picture for us please feel free to email it at terminaladdiction AT gmail DOT COM

« Airport Show » opens in Dubai promising greener, cleaner aviation

Hearing airport developers promising green development is a bit like listening to an alcholic claiming that he is just popping out to top up on tea. The ninth annual « Airport Show » opened in Dubai today with much talk of sustainability.

Yeah, green airports. We'll all for them. But we'll be keeping a sharp eye for real developments rather than just the usual PR spin.

Despite the global recession the airport development is continuing almost unabated in the region. Not least in Dubai itself where a new airport, Al Maktoum International Airport is being built 40 kilometres away from the existing Dubai International airport. The budget is an eyewatering $33 billion. The first passenger terminal is 80% complete and will have a capacity of seven million passengers, however it will handle up to 160 million passengers annually after completion. The airport will have an annual cargo capacity of 12 million tons, more than three times that of Memphis International Airport, today's largest cargo hub

How green the new airport's six parallel runways will be is anyone's guess.

Changi, Singapore and SFO rated as world's best

According to the latest issue of Dwell Magazine has rated Changi Airport in Singapore as the best in the world.

It woos the common traveler who may be stuck here for a few hours ... thanks to a straightforward design that incorporates open-air spaces, including rooftop terraces and an out-
door swimming pool. Its atrium-like
 terminals are lush with indoor tropical
gardens that exhibit botanical thought-fulness. ... Ultimately, however, the vines, tasteful wood trim, and 
warm tones help offset the coldness commonly found in international 
hubs. A 24-hour cinema, spa, showers, children’s play areas, and free Internet service provide the means to kill 
time or freshen up before the next 
leg of your trip.

While San Francisco Airport gets the nod as best US airport:

SFO makes a big impression on those approaching by car or aboard the airport’s nifty AirTrains. The terminal elevates expectations with its sweeping, winglike roof and custom lettering oozing cosmopolitan style. The feeling doesn’t dissipate indoors, either. The concourse is a light and airy space—–
if a bit oversized for current traffic levels—–that hums quietly and instills confidence and calm in the traveler. International food vendors afford 
nontravelers quality good-bye time; security checks operate smoothly; 
and there are no pretzel-like corridors to get lost in. Waylaid travelers can busy themselves with an aquarium, 
an aviation museum, thoughtful art and culture exhibits, spa treatments, quality restaurants, and wireless Inter-
net. Convenient metro rail services connect the terminal to the city.