IDEAS on Airport Design

Notes for


I would strongly recommend “The Harvard Guide to Shopping,” specifically the section on Airports. (Amazon) The book details the business model of airports and shows how profit generated from retail space is essential to keep airport taxes down. Having worked on a $6bn airport, I can say that the number one requirement by the client was to make everything far apart and encourage as much retail as possible.

Two models can be identified: Slow + Lots of retail / Fast + No retail


Heathrow – Many shops – 2 hours to get through – Taxes £45 per flight
Stansted – Many Shops – 2 hours to get through – Taxes £30 per flight


City Airport – One shop – 15 minutes to get through – Taxes £85 per flight.

Most airlines have seat numbers and board planes with passengers disordered. If the plane waiting area resembled the interior of the plane, staff could immediately see if the plane is ready ahead of time and identify which passengers have yet to arrive by looking at empty seats. More importantly, the plane could be boarded faster due to better organisation – passengers at the back of the plane would sit at the front of the waiting area; they enter first with all passengers moving in order from lounge to plane as a continuous wave without interruption.

How does a building meet a plane? Airport by OMA below.

Could the airport’s roof be the runway that sends passengers upstairs?


The train station goodbye  used to be running along the platform waving goodbye to a loved one that accelerates into the horizon. For me it is the perfect goodbye, but unfortunately we put a barrier today and have deleted this moment of interaction. I spent a lot of time in airports as a child, my favorite is King Khalid Airport Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The airport splits into two routes early on, those traveling, and those leaving people off. Both travel on non-intersecting routes to the airport gate, I used to wave goodbye to my mother and father directly from the gate as I returned to Boarding School each holiday season. In the photo below, the gates are to the left and in the middle is a sandstone plinth where my parents would wait. I waved goodbye alike the old train station goodbye’s above.


Have you played Airport Inc. ?? Great little simcity like game to get into detail of how airports work. (Amazon)

One thought on “IDEAS on Airport Design

  1. hello ..
    i’m astudent at architecture college and i wish from you to help me by supply me with useful data ,information,drawings,and and standards of international airports design,because my graduation project is international airport in sinai and i know how can i compute the areas of airport terminal components ..please help me to design a good airport for egypt and for you (when you come to visit egypt)>>:) .
    thanks at all

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