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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Airport Inertia

Airports are not indicative of the nature of a place and it's probably a good thing, given that I usually arrive in them woozy from lack of, or emerging from sleep, sedatives or a couple of glasses of champagne. In fact, the more I land at, the more they seem to blur into one another. This is one part of globalisation I don't like - I understand that logistics may dictate a certain amount in the design of an airport but I really think more flavour can be added to the interior design at least.

Sometimes we're treated to the stunning visual map of a city at night whilst the plane descends into land - I will never forget my arrival into Dubai in 2004 - it felt like landing on the Vegas strip. I had never seen so much neon or so many skyscrapers. Nowadays the plane always seems to come in across the desert so we don't receive the same visual impact. The airport itself is nondescript. White, more white and acres of space. Passport control is generally a nightmare - regardless of the fact that there's about 60 desks in both Terminal's 1 & 3, they are either partly unmanned or just so busy. One of my favourite life-aids comes into use here - E-gate card, which I am lucky enough to own as I have residency in the


Malaga airport at least tries to brighten the mood amongst arrivals - on the way to passport control you pass a number of photographs displaying the wonders that can be reached from the airport - the Andalucian countryside in all it's glory - Cordoba, Seville, Granada and of course Malaga itself (any photos of the Rock of Gibraltar are conspicuously absent!). It's many treasures both architectural and objets d'art are covered in the exhibition. Everytime I enter I smile, because I know I'm already in Spain.


This year, Dublin airport - or the airport I should say closest to home (but I don't even know what home is anymore) - put on an exhibition of it's own - of Ireland's faces. Some are famous and some aren't. I appreciate what they are trying to do and given that we were an almost completely indigenous island until very recently there are certain celtic traits which are clearly visible and perhaps do suggest to one that you've landed in Ireland - but it doesn't inspire any passion in me for being home. The good thing is that if you land in Dublin on a clear day - you have already been treated to some striking scenery flying in from the Irish sea across Howth head, along Portmarnock and can even spy Croke Park Stadium in the distance.

Artwork trumps ad-work every time and for those stuck in endless terminals something to enlighten oneself on a travellator is a nice distraction - and perhaps for some an education.

I'm sure many of you have visited Heathrow, London and JFK, New York so I don't need to mention how soulless they are. I'm not a Heathrow hater though - I've been through it so many times now that I find it easy to manage and I certainly think it has improved in recent years. Security is a nightmare though, which has become a given in any international city (funnily enough I flew from Sharjah International Airport in U.A.E other day - and I didn't even have to remove my laptop or liquids from my case - perhaps not funny at all? Are Budget airlines not a threat?).

What shocks me is that in the increasingly fashion-obsessed world we're living in is that designers haven't gotten their pricey paws on this huge market? I can certainly see a Dior-Dubai Terminal or Burberry-Beirut. What bigger boost to an ego than a Terminal named after your brand? Even the First class lounges are basic, wouldn't they benefit from a Cavalli-esque makeover? Perhaps the wheels are already in motion, it really wouldn't surprise me.

What is less surprising is that aesthetics are being considered in the new airport designs. Renowned architect, Zaha Hadid is onboard to modernise and visualise a new Heathrow Airport after her deisgns for Zagreb airport in Croatia proved winning.
For me - there's still a lack of substance to these new-gen designs - as they don't reflect the surrounding countryside or culture of each place whatsoever. The design for the new Incheon airport in South Korea looks more like an elaborate flyover rather than saying anything about this wonderfully cultural country.

However I am no architect or engineer and perhaps looking for aesthetics in these functional places is superfluous. All I know is that I ensure my visa is complete before entering any of these airports (this includes filling out those blasted pre-landing cards before arrival), that my passport is handy (not buried in hand luggage), that I have shoes I can slip off, comfortable clothing, a bottle of water and a good book on my Kindle for reading on the queue for passport control. But note to those creatures of vision - we spend more time inside these buildings than outside so some attention to form would be appreciated by those who are terminally in terminals.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent Triona - branded airports are surely not far away indeed!