With up to 50 million people travelling through the world’s largest airports every year, often frustrated by delays and occasionally stymied by strikes, travellers may not be in the mood to appreciate the buildings’ architectural niceties. But many modern airports are becoming increasingly stylish. Some Asian cities in particular have spent lavishly on airport design and facilities, keen to show just what they are capable of; their airport is a national symbol.
Terminal 3 at Beijing International Airport heads the Travel and Leisure’s list of the world’s most beautiful airports. Opened in time for the 2008 Olympics, the vast two-mile long Terminal is one of the largest buildings in the world and is shaped like a dragon. ‘Starchitects’ Foster + Partners designed the building and color-coded the ceiling. Backlit by the sun, the effect is literally and metaphorically dazzling, pays homage to Chinese tradition and also has a practical function: the red zones and yellow zones help passengers navigate the building. On arrival passengers disembark at the airport's highest level, able to enjoy the massive perspective before coming back down to earth.
Travelling may still prove to be a stressful experience, but being ‘wowed’ by style does help and gives you a taste of what your destination city has to offer. And apparently the world's most beautiful airports aren't just for show, they are also more functional; their linear design helps you to get your gate on time!