New Delhi: London Heathrow Terminal 5
Designed by: Richard Rogers Partnership (now Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners)
Style points: At least 19 years in the making, the largest free-standing building in the UK has been leased strictly by British Airways. The design capitalizes on the enormous amount of space, with soaring silver ceilings and sweeping rainbow-coloured pillars. It is a futuristic design that puts the glamour back in travelling, thanks in large part to the multitude of contemporary art installations, including art critics’ darling Cloud by Troika, a flip-dot sculpture inspired by analogue airport schedules.
Highlights: The space can handle up to 35 million people a year. With a restaurant by Michelin-starred chef Gordon Ramsay, the first European Tiffany and Co.store, three spas, chocolate waterfalls at Chocolate Box and designated Kid Zones, there is plenty to do while waiting for the flight.
First class: (from above) The new Terminal 3 at the Beijing Capital International Airport uses hints of red, a royal colour in China; the business class lounge at Dubai International Airport’s new Terminal 3 services passengers on Emirates. Doug Kanter / Bloomberg
Beijing Terminal 3
Designed by: Foster + Partners
Style points: Touted as one of the must-see architectural feats during the 2008 Olympics, the terminal, when viewed from the sky, is meant to represent the shape of a Chinese dragon, with a curved hourglass shape and rows of skylights that imitate the scales of a dragon. Architect Norman Foster, well known for the Gherkin in London, also used the Summer Palace in Beijing as inspiration, with hints of royal red and gold throughout the airport.
Highlights: An indoor garden in the style of the imperial gardens in the Summer Palace greets guests. And Global Kitchen comprises 72 different eateries offering hungry flyers everything from dumplings to doughnuts.
Dubai Terminal 3
Designed by: Paul Andreu Architecte
Style points: In keeping with the spirit of Dubai (build, build, build), the new airport terminal, dedicated solely to Emirates, is the largest in the world (it stole the title from Beijing’s Terminal 3) with at least 1.5 million sq. m of space. Architect Paul Andreu, responsible also for the National Theatre in Beijing, is known for his curved, circular structures—and the Dubai terminal is no different.
Top billing: Heathrow airport’s new terminal cost around £4.3 billion (Rs31,175 crore today). Suzanne Plunkett / Bloomberg
Along with the cylindrical building, the outdoor drop-off and pick-up areas are housed beneath stunning, swooping arched roofs.
Highlights: Bored travellers can entertain themselves with the two indoor Zen gardens, atriums filled with ferns and pine trees, 8,000 sq. m of retail space, business centres, gyms and spas.
Cairo Terminal 3
Designed by: NACO BV
Style points: When land restrictions forced the airport to halt expansion on the old Terminal 2, Star Alliance Co. Plus, which counts among its members United Airlines, struck a deal with EgyptAir to make the new terminal at Cairo the hub of West Asian and African travel. A play on glass and corrugated steel, the terminal looks out on a desert oasis built across the street from the drop-off and pickup lanes with sculptures mirroring ancient Egyptian obelisks. Inside, space trusses create a web of pillars running through the slanted halls.
Highlights: Although the new terminal has been officially inaugurated, it won’t see its first flyers until May. The new terminal uses criss-crossed bridges to connect to the older terminals. It will also house a new shopping pavilion and a luxury hotel, Le Méridien Cairo.
Delhi’s Terminal 1D
Designed by: Hafeez Contractor
Style points: The first phase of the massive overhaul of the Capital’s airport brings space and grace to the previously cramped domestic terminal. Now, white pillars support a glass and tiled roof. A new marble floor spreads across 37,500 sq. m and a huge greeting zone has replaced the earlier avatar of a cramped welcome ramp. Artwork from across India has been stationed around the terminal.
Highlights: A new retail, lounge and restaurant zone fleshes out the airport experience, and 16 security channels means a much faster check-in process.
Srinagar International Airport integrated terminal
Designed by: Hafeez Contractor
Style points: From the front, the new airport terminal rises up in a Star Wars-style enclave, with a hyper-modern look tinged with nostalgia, thanks largely to the hanging eaves that drop almost all the way to the ground. The design is meant to handle the snowfall of Kashmir winters. From the runway, steel and glass greet the passengers and indoors, huge windows and criss-crossed steel ceilings allow for a fresh modern face to the tourism trade.
Highlights: At 19,700 sq. m, the new airport can handle in excess of 900 passengers an hour. It also doubles up as an army base, so there are plenty of security checkpoints to entertain the passengers.