Zaha Hadid appointed to develop
plans for new London airport


Zaha Hadid airport

News: Zaha Hadid Architects has been appointed by the Mayor of London to help develop plans for a major new airport in the southeast of England.

Hadid's firm will work alongside UK-based engineers Atkins and Pascall+Watson, the architects who designed Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport, to prepare a submission to the UK government about the future of aviation around the capital.

"This work is essential to deliver the most integrated transport solutions for London and the UK," said Hadid. "It will enable London to maintain its position as one of the world's most important economic, commercial and cultural centres, outlining the city's future growth and development, which has always been founded on global connectivity."

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "It is absolutely imperative that work to progress a new hub airport in the southeast is completed as soon as possible. The government has set a timetable that dawdles, when dash should be the order of the day.

"That is why I have assembled a mighty team of experts who I have tasked with delivering a fulsome examination of the most realistic solutions to our aviation crisis in the shortest time possible, which I look forward to sharing with the government."

In 2011, architect Norman Foster unveiled his own proposals for an airport and transport hub on the Thames estuary, while last year architects Gensler proposed a floating airport connected by underwater tunnels for the same location – see all airports.

Earlier this week Hadid slammed the UK's "misogynist" attitude towards women architects after a survey found nearly a third knew they were paid less than their male counterparts – see all news about Zaha Hadid.

Top image shows Hadid's proposal for an extension to Zagreb Airport in Croatia.

Here's the full press release:

Mayor announces world-class team to develop hub airport plans

The Mayor of London has appointed a world-class team of experts to help develop plans for a multi runway hub airport in the southeast.
Today (11 February) the Mayor will also give oral evidence to an aviation inquiry convened by the Parliamentary Transport Select Committee. Committee members are expected to ask him why developing a new hub airport is so important to London and to explain why further expansion of Heathrow is impossible.

Appointing a world-class team of experts has added further weight to the work being driven forward by the Mayor to address the nation’s aviation crisis. He has made it very clear that he wishes to see the speediest possible resolution to the debate on where to build a multi runway hub airport, so that the British economy is given the best chance to prosper in the face of huge competition from its global rivals
The Mayor has confirmed that the following organisations have all been engaged to help with work being prepared for submission to the Government.

They will provide expertise under the following themes:

Airport design & infrastructure

Atkins - one of the world’s leading design, engineering and project management consultancies. Projects they have worked on include the London 2012 Olympics, Bahrain World Trade Centre and the Dubai Metro. Atkins will also lead on consideration of surface access and environmental impacts.

Zaha Hadid Architects – Zaha Hadid was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize (considered to be the Nobel Prize of architecture) in 2004 and is internationally renowned for her theoretical and academic work. Time Magazine included her in their 2010 list of the 100 most influential people in the world. She has worked on globally celebrated projects such as the London 2012 Aquatics Centre and Guangzhou Opera House in China.

Pascall & Watson architects - Previous projects include Heathrow Terminal 5, Dublin Airport Terminal 2, Rome Fiumicino Airport Masterplan. They also designed St Pancras International Station.

Socio economic impacts

Ramboll – a leading international engineering and management consultancy with a track record of examining the economic impact of airports and other infrastructure from around the world, supporting key developments in European air traffic control, working on the new Thames Crossing and developing National Policy Statements.

Oxford Economics – a world leader in global forecasting and quantitative analysis for business and government with unrivalled experience of exploring the economic impact of the aviation sector and airports for clients including IATA, ATAG, BAA and Airbus and developing economic forecasts and scenarios for London.

York Aviation – a leading firm specialising in the assessment of the economic impacts of aviation and aviation demand planning.

Professor Peter Tyler - Peter is a Professor in urban and regional economics in the Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge and Fellow at St. Catharine's College. Peter has an extensive track record in undertaking research for the public and private sector and an established reputation in the field of urban and regional economics with a particular emphasis on the evaluation of policy. He has been a Project Director for over seventy major research projects for Government.

Commercial viability

Ernst and Young – a global leader in assurance, tax, transactions and advisory services.

Legal and regulatory

Ashurst – The leading global law firm, which specialises in advising corporates, financial institutions and governments. Their core businesses are in corporate, finance, energy, resources and infrastructure.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "It is absolutely imperative that work to progress a new hub airport in the southeast is completed as soon as possible. The Government has set a timetable that dawdles when dash should be the order of the day. That is why I have assembled a mighty team of experts who I have tasked with delivering a fulsome examination of the most realistic solutions to our aviation crisis in the shortest time possible, which I look forward to sharing with the Government."

Zaha Hadid said: "This work is essential to deliver the most integrated transport solutions for London and the UK. It will enable London to maintain its position as one of the world's most important economic, commercial and cultural centres; outlining the city's future growth and development which has always been founded on global connectivity."

Mike Pearson, UK director of airports, Atkins said: "This project is not purely about the creation of a new hub airport, it's about forming the foundations for London's future development and reaffirming the UK's position as a key international centre. It will fundamentally shift the debate on UK aviation once and for all, providing both a convincing and compelling case for how international air connectivity is critical to underpinning the UK economy, as well as driving wider regeneration."

Around 15 different proposals for a new hub airport in the southeast have already been made public. The Mayor has consulted on criteria that will be used to evaluate each of those proposals and to form a shortlist of options. That shortlist is expected to be announced within weeks and the team now assembled by the Mayor will combine their expertise to produce detailed feasibility studies of the shortlisted options that the Mayor will submit to the Davies Commission.

  • Everything from above.

  • Kris

    I think I’m going to vomit.

  • JMA

    Keep up Dezeen, this was in the papers last week. At the moment this seems to just be feasibility studies, but no doubt it will be Hadid’s normal great work.

  • Sam

    I’m expecting a very clean linear design from Zaha; a high modernist piece of architecture that is not over designed, a select choice of material that represents her understanding and response to the context and environment of which the airport will be situated. Overall I’m optimistic and excited about the project.

    • Lohen Grinn

      Either you're severely misinformed or that's some very dry sarcasm there!

  • Ioannis Zonitsas

    Build some new high-tech school instead.

  • Jec

    Let's put money together and buy him a ruler!

  • Chris

    So Norman Foster’s practice puts its own time and money into a proposal for a Thames hub and they completely negate it for this mess of an architect?

    • Jacob

      Look at the scale of the two projects. Norman Foster’s plan was a bit pie-in-the-sky.

  • arch._g

    Completely boring and obvious to hear about yet another Zaha piece, there are actually far more interesting architects who deliver far more contextual and interesting architectures that actually relate to PEOPLE than the deformed, mono-material ‘forms’ that this practice creates.

  • AsWicked

    Isn’t the key to a good airport great functionality? As we all know from the past, this is not Zaha Hadid’s key skill. Wonder why someone would choose an office like that for this task.

    • Nick

      Hence Pascal and Watson have been appointed to support her. They will make it work. She will give it the aesthetic.

  • bubble

    So many negative comments from one image. It seems that Dezeen readers lack constructive criticism. If the majority of readers are outside of the creative profession than no worries about the future of design. If otherwise it is a very upsetting factor. As well as this, the opinions are mostly very conservative and conservative is very stifling in the design field.

    Zaha has never built an airport before and if she gets the commission based on the image shown here there it will be an innovation in structural and construction technology. Perhaps in the program of the airport itself.

    The airports that are built now look alike and function like huge hangars. Airport design could be improved with different approaches.

    • Chris

      Exactly, she's 'never built an airport before' so why has she been chosen for what will probably be the most important upgrade to Britain's air capacity for the next 50-75 years?

      • Christine

        I bet most of the people complaining about Zaha Hadid never built anything, especially not as much as Hadid. So who are they to complain without any argumentation?

        I read somewhere that England is crippled with conservative architects that are glued into their own little elitist club. Sounds like it’s true on Dezeen.

        • Chris

          Thanks for your insight Christine. I’ve never made a film either, but I still practice my right to critique crap films. Why this woman is being chosen over Foster, Rogers, Chipperfield, Holl, NORD and Stanton Williams etc, is beyond me.

      • elicarbo

        Because she’s teamed up with Atkins and most of all with Pascall+Watson, who have more than half a century of experience in successfully delivering airports throughout the world. I think that’s a good enough reason!

      • provocateur

        So are you saying that the UK will not need anything newer than the current mundane and mediocre architecture for the next 50-75 years?! That kind of thought seriously hinders further possibility in architectural innovation and design strategy. I don’t like Zaha’s projects but at least I have huge respect for what she stands for in comparison to other moderate architecture that is being built in the UK.

        Foster and other architects started from nothing and built those projects, so why can’t Zaha do the same?!

    • Anton Huggler

      “Innovation in structural and construction technology”. I don’t associate her designs with these words. They apply to a man I wish would be chosen to do the airport: Santiago Calatrava.

      • rorystott

        My lord, that is such a good idea. Why is this the first time I’ve seen Calatrava’s name suggested for this? Can you imagine a Calatrava-designed airport adrift in the Thames estuary? Stunning.

        I think we need to introduce Boris to Calatrava and his work. He is more structurally capable, has more transport infrastructure experience (though I don’t think he’s done an airport yet, so keep hold of the other consultants) and whose work just looks much better!

        • VKTR

          He has designed one in Bilbao.

  • JayCee

    It always amazes me how great infrastructure projects are appointed in the UK – even at feasibility stages – without international competition. And in this case to an architect who, depite winning the Pritzker Prize, has never before delivered an airport building and has a track record of delivering over budget.

  • Ben_S

    Everything Zaha designs looks dated within a week. Reign it in!

  • jeremy
  • AsWicked

    “Everything Zaha designs looks dated within a week. Reign it in!”

    This is so true. Everything Zaha Hadid’s office contributes to modern architecture ignores the key topics modern architecture should deal with. We don’t need architecture whose main ingredient is merely the fact that it exceeds all budgets on purpose by making formal decisions that lead to costly single-unit constructions instead of finding environmentally responsible ways to build sustainable and affordable buildings with the minimal use of ressources.

    Zaha Hadid only builds overly expensive modern (and by modern I mean short-living) sculptures and forces rooms into them.

    I don’t know what this is supposed to have to do with modern architecture. But unfortunately there are still people in banks funding those projects and governments or commitees deciding to build such projects who think they can get a Bilbao effect from it. Which, by the way, turned out to be a social catastrophy for Bilbao.

    Aesthetics are an important part of architecture, but can never be the only aspect of it. There are social issues that are much more important. For what it’s worth, I don’t even think that Zaha Hadid’s perception of aesthetics is a good one, if it demands architects to design like that, eg bending glas in two axes is not innovative. It’s just very expensive and lavish. And designing so that you have to bend glas in two axes, so that the building’s architectural concept is met, is purely dumb.

    • I agree. Unfortunately though, for most people innovative equals strange and visually different, even if there is no apparent logic behind it.