Special feature: ten amazing
airport designs

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Following SOM’s new airport terminal in Mumbai featuring a vast concrete canopy and Grimshaw’s St Petersburg terminal comprising monumental folded ceilings, here are some of the most amazing examples of airport architecture from the pages of Dezeen (+ slideshow).

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1: Spaceport America by Foster + Partners

Foster + Partners completed the world’s first space terminal for tourists in 2011.

The low-rise building was dug into the landscape and features full-height glazing that wraps around the end of the building facing the runway. Tourists will be taking off from Foster’s spaceport terminal later this year.

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2: London Britania Airport by Gensler

As the UK government continues to look at ways to increase airport capacity in southeast England, various conceptual proposals have been unveiled – including a floating airport.

Architecture firm Gensler’s proposal included four floating runways that would be tethered to the seabed.

Departure concourses would lead to underwater rail tunnels, which would connect to central London as well as European rail networks.

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3: Thames Hub by Foster + Partners

Foster + Partners also unveiled a proposal for an airport and transport hub on the Thames Estuary in southeast England.

The Thames Hub would include a four-runway airport, a freight port and an Orbital Rail link around London connected to the north of Britain and Europe. The architects claim it would cost £50 billion to implement and would generate £150 billion in economic benefits.

Zaha Hadid Architects were appointed by the Mayor of London in February last year to help develop plans for airport development in the area.

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4: terminal design for Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

London architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, designers of Heathrow Terminal 5 in London and Barajas airport in Madrid, were appointed to design a new terminal at Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport in Lyon, France last July.

On completion the terminal will double the size of the airport and increase capacity from 10 to 15 million passengers per year by 2020.

The circular design features shops and gardens at its centre.

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5: Kutaisi International Airport by UNStudio

We have featured a couple of airports in Georgia on Dezeen, including Kutaisi International Airport by Dutch firm UNStudio.

One corner of the airport is coloured bright red to aid passenger orientation.

Inside the terminal, a large structure covered in a web of wooden beams descends from the ceiling and creates a central hub around which passengers circulate.

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6: Mestia Airport by J. Mayer H.

This airport building located in the medieval town of Mestia, Georgia is much smaller than the one in Kutaisi, but was remarkably designed and constructed within 3 months.

The structure comprises two branches that curve up towards the sky and serves the local ski resort. Both terminals were built as part of a major regeneration project in Georgia, which is investing in architecture to rebrand itself.

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7:  Queen Alia International Airport by Foster + Partners

Airport specialists Foster + Partners drew inspiration from Bedouin tents to create a canopy of domes over this airport terminal in Jordan.

The terminal features a tessellated concrete roof canopy and glazed elevations on each side of the building to help passenger orientation.

Inside the terminal, soft brown tones were used to match the shades of the surrounding desert.

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8: Terminal 3 at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport

One of the largest airport terminals completed in 2013 was Terminal 3 at Shenzhen Bao’am International Airport.

The terminal facilitates up to 45 million passengers per year and features thousands of hexagonal skylights to allow natural light into the structure.

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9: Mumbai airport terminal by SOM

Two airport terminals were also completed last month. American firm SOM referenced traditional Indian architecture in their new Mumbai structure.

The concrete canopy spanning the terminal is supported by 30 tapered columns that are punctured with recesses, creating a decorative pattern of openings that are infilled with coloured glazing to allow light to filter through the space.

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10: St Petersburg airport by Grimshaw

Most recently London studio Grimshaw completed a terminal in St Petersburg featuring a huge flat roof so that the structure could cope with heavy snowfall.

Shimmering golden panels clad the folded ceilings inside the terminal, which is expected to bring 12 million passengers in and out of the Russian city each year.

See more airports on Dezeen»

  • Oliver M

    I love these ideas but people need to remember how important getting in and out is at airports. Take for instance my hometown airport, Kansas City International. People love its design because you drive into a circle and drive out. Three main buildings and garages in the middle of each building. Look it up!

  • Paramount Interiors

    You’re not going to miss these airports from the sky.