Proposed Thames Estuary airport would offer global travelers 24/7-access to Europe through an airport uniquely positioned for change and expansion
LONDON — Gensler’s vision for a new European hub airport, dubbed London Britannia Airport, would position London as the global gateway for Europe. The proposed airport would literally float on the waters of the Thames Estuary, minimising disruption to London residents, affording the capital an opportunity to expand beyond its land-locked airports, and offering global travelers a European hub airport able to operate around-the-clock.
Skies across the world are becoming increasingly overcrowded. In Europe, at least 7,000 additional commercial jets will be flying the skies by 2030, according to EUROCONTROL. Figures from the U.K.’s Department of Transport indicate that expanded capacity in England’s South East could see passenger numbers increase from 127 to 300 million per annum by 2030. In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration projects that air travel will nearly double in the next 20 years.
Traditional, land-locked airports cannot expand sufficiently to meet dramatic global increases in flights and passengers. Heathrow is already causing immeasurable expense in losses related to delays, complicated flight routes and increasing fuel consumption, all of which result in higher operating cost for airlines, higher ticket prices for passengers, and unnecessary increases in noise and greenhouse gas emissions. Chris Johnson, Gensler regional managing principal and design director for London Britannia, says: “To match the immense demands to come on the U.K.’s outdated airport infrastructure, we must take a completely new approach.”
Passengers would be able to access London Britannia via high-speed underground rail. Vehicular access would be dispersed to three new land-based departure/arrival terminals, two located north and south of the estuary, and a third proposed for Central London between Canary Wharf and the Olympic Park.
Gensler also proposes a new future for Heathrow, transforming it into an Eco City – Heathrow Gardens – utilising existing infrastructure to provide additional homes for 300,000 people and employment for more than 200,000.
Johnson continues: “This plan would solve a major infrastructure problem that will impact Europe for the next 50 years. If we don’t get our airports right, it will put a stranglehold on the U.K. economy for decades to come. We don’t need tiny, incremental improvements. We need a bold idea.”
Ian Mulcahey, principal and managing director of Gensler London, adds: “This will be a national infrastructure project that can inject new pace and dynamism into our economy. This isn’t a London airport, it is a global airport, designed and manufactured and built in the U.K.”
Built for Modern Travel, Adaptable for Change
• The proposed relocation of a U.K. hub airport to the Thames Estuary would create a state-of-the-art facility in London with the space and infrastructure to change and thrive over the next century.
• Flight restrictions on land-based airports would not apply, enabling flights to depart and land around the clock. The marine location also avoids demolishing any homes to expand.
• The proposed location enables runways to be floated in as required and taken away for maintenance in the future. The concept positions the airport for future expansion, incremental growth, and even adaptability to new aircraft and their as-yet-unknown space requirements.
• Building upon the U.K.’s capability as a world leader in marine construction, the floating airport scheme would enable the airport to avoid dredging for new construction, and would minimize noise pollution for neighboring London residents.
• A floating airport would provide a reef-like environment conducive to marine life. To minimise environmental disruption, runways would be tethered to the sea bed and the floating concourse.
• The proposed airport would generate power from marine turbines situated along the floating runways, harnessing wave energy to offset airport energy use.
• With London’s population projected to grow from 8.3 to 9 million by 2030 according to the Office for National Statistics, the land currently occupied by Heathrow provides an ideal location to accommodate both new family housing and employment. Alternative locations for such growth are poorly served by infrastructure.
Links for Additional Information
• Gensler’s Aviation + Transportation Portfolio
• “The Airport of the Future is about More than Takeoff and Landing"
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