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Students around the globe were invited to advance the concept of what an international airport terminal might be in the year 2075.

1ST PLACE Lake Michigan Airport - Relocating O’Hare 2075, Thomas M. Smith, University College London

Rates of air travel have continued to rise since the conception of the passenger jet in the 20th Century. In the struggle to deal with rising passenger numbers, turnaround times at airports have slowed, resulting in an increase in the average delay times of flights. In response to this, numerous ‘Mega Airports’ are under construction and the world's busiest airports continue to expand, adding new terminals and runways. The scale of this construction inevitably results in the airport being pushed further away from the city.

Speculating on future developments in aviation technologies, the Lake Michigan Airport will relocate O’Hare International Airport to downtown Chicago. The implementation of two patents by Boeing and Airbus—vertical takeoff passenger jets, and capsule fuselage loading systems—will negate the need for vast runways will and increase turn around speed in the airport. Realised through the use of engineered timber, the highly efficient airport’s compact footprint allows it to be placed at the centre of Chicago, eliminating the additional infrastructure required to serve an outer city terminal. As with Grand Central Station, this proximity to the city enables the airport to assume a new civic role.

2ND PLACE The Living Airport – Dallas/Fort Worth InternationalJohn Cyril A. IsaacUniversity of Santo Tomas, Philippines

The design concept entitled, “The Living airport” also known as the “intelligent airport” is equipped with a computer mainframe (brain) run by an artificial intelligence (A.I.) program. It has the capability to progress itself by developing more adaptive and technically advance systems. Its sensors in the control tower and different locations in the whole airport synthesizes, analyses, and elicits precise response and solutions to most common irregularities or even rather complex concerns

It has the capability to establish an “eco system.” It Integrates a wholesome and healthy ambiance of the organic elements of nature with the inorganic components of structural technology as it progresses. Nature’s presence is felt inside the terminal where trees, ponds, fish indoor species, waterfalls, and rivers are put in place. As it is run by an artificial intelligence, it regulates its continuous operation and maintenance. Thus the whole integrated eco system also regulates and controls the temperature of the entire terminal.

Moreover, the A.I. system conducts pre-departure and arrival procedural requirements in the terminal and in the Mobile processing transport (MPT) airlift powered vehicles. The MPT is a booking transport APP that is dispatched to fetch the passenger and bring him directly to the boarding area since all the procedures have been accurately processed in the Vehicle. This saves him a lot of time, provides convenience, and security. The Living Airport has fully developed the technology of a hologram/augmented reality presentation which highlights briefly the presence and amenities of the Dallas airport. It also projects in the hologram the country’s citizens good and strong attributes with respect to cultural and social norms. It shows also beautiful tourist locations. This is a boost to the country’s tourism.

3RD PLACE A Vision for the Heathrow of Tomorrow, Jia Yapp, Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University

Since its official opening more than half a century ago, London Heathrow (LHR) has grown from a small civil airport to one of the world’s busiest aviation hubs. 

The growth, however, comes with a price. As the world continues to admire Heathrow’s great success, local communities are facing the environmental challenges caused by an ad-hoc airport development. In addition, Heathrow’s expansion is limited by its proximity to the neighbouring boroughs, causing the airport to operate under its full capacity. With no margin for error, a small incident can easily cause major flight disruptions or even threaten the closure of Heathrow. As a result, Heathrow is more vulnerable than other major European airports. 

In the wake of these challenges, Heathrow 2.0, a proposal to build a highly efficient, green, and state-of-the-art airport terminal is put forth in order to secure Heathrow’s position as the world’s leading aviation hub. 

1. Growing in Capacity 

The new proposal aims to overcome Heathrow’s space constraints by introducing high-density underground infrastructure development. 

2. Growing in Connectivity 

High-density development allows a more compact design of airport infrastructures, providing a faster and seamless passenger experience. In addition, by introducing high-speed inter-airport train services, Heathrow provides its transit passengers an extra option of airside flight connections between major airports in London, first-of-its-kind in the aviation industry. 

3. Growing in Urban Greenery 

The subterranean design allows more surface area to be transformed into public recreational areas and farmlands, reinstating the synergy between urban infrastructure and community programmes. A 5-storey urban farming facility is also featured in the new airport design as part of Heathrow’s vision in pioneering the next generation urban farming.


The entries were evaluated on five criteria—creative approach and presentation; response to site; sustainability and resiliency; functionality; and innovation and technology—by a a jury of renowned professionals in the field of aviation, which included:

Aileen Cho, Senior Editor at Engineering News-Record;

Chester Chipperfield, freelance Creative Director at Boom Supersonic and former Creative Director of Tesla;

Curt Fentress, Fentress Architects;

David Brody, Founder and Chairman of XTI Aircraft;

Khaled Naja, Executive Vice President for the Infrastructure & Development Division of Dallas Fort Worth International Airport;

Kim Day, CEO of Denver International Airport;

Michael McCoy, first recipient of the Smithsonian’s Design Minds National Design Award; and Tom Allett, Editor of Airports International Magazine.

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