A Canopy of Metal Trees: Stansted, the Unsurpassable Lightness of Being


Stansted airport (1981-1991) takes from Renault the modular forest of masts, and from Hong Kong the shafts of four cylindrical steel pillars; but the exposed fan of cables of the distribution centre is here a knot of braces that hold together the branching structure that supports each of the domes, and the vertical soar of the skyscraper’s supports is here transformed into a staunch low frame that opens up in wide structural trees under the light and luminous roof. On a 36 metre square grid, the modules extend the old concept of the umbrella building, unifying structure and services under a single roof; the base of the steel trees holds carefully designed units carrying services and signs, and the heavy air conditioning machinery is removed from its conventional position in the roof, locating it under the floor slab and allowing the entrance of natural light through the domes. Sensitively blurring its low profile in the rolling landscape, the building offers a relaxed, bright and clear passage from the cars and trains into the planes, through a white, grey and silver interior that established a new standard for airports, and whose decisive innovations altered the type as radically as the fertile heresies of the Hong Kong Bank transformed the evolution of the skyscraper...[+]

Included Tags: