Main image: Close up of walls at Menara Airport, Marrakesh  (Dreamstime)
List Words : Wanderlust team | 20 October

The world’s most beautiful airports

Across the planet more and more countries are building architecturally stunning airports to announce they've arrived. These are so cool you'll never want to leave

1: Shenzhen Bao’an international Airport, China

The gleaming white interior of Shenzen International (Dreamstime)

The gleaming white interior of Shenzen International (Dreamstime)

Pity the cleaners at Shenzen Bao’an international airport. The interior, designed by Italian architects Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas, features acres of gleaming white tiles. Things are a little easier to maintain on the exterior. It was designed to resemble a manta ray, which can be found off the coast of China in abundance.

 

2: Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport, Madrid, Spain

Inside Madrid airport (Creative Commons: Jean-Pierre Dalbé)

Inside Madrid airport (Creative Commons: Jean-Pierre Dalbé)

75 years after the original Madrid–Barajas airport was built, architects Richard Rogers and Antonio Lamela decided to bring a sense of calm to the design of the new Terminal Four building. With its bamboo interior, bathed in copious natural light, passengers to the Latin American destinations served by the terminal board their planes in Zen-like peace. What they are like when they arrive, 14 hours later, is in the airline’s hands.

 

3: Denver International Airport, USA

Denver airport at dusk (Dreamstime)

Denver airport at dusk (Dreamstime)

Arrive at Denver International Airport in Colorado and you can be forgiven for thinking that that you have touched down in the Middle East. The airport’s tent-like roof, fashioned from white Teflon-coated fiberglass, looks a row of Hajj tents in Saudi Arabia. It’s meant to mimick the snow-capped peaks of the Rockies in the distance, but try telling that to Donald Trump.

 

4: Wellington international Airport, New Zealand

Gollum on the ceiling (Dreamstime)

Gollum on the ceiling (Dreamstime)

Nicknamed ‘The Rock’ and created by Studio Pacific Architecture and Warren & Mahoney, Wellington airport was inspired by the legend of sea monsters Ngake and Whataitai, not Hollywood actor Dwayne Johnson. The exterior was designed to look like dangerous cliffs and the very wooden interior features an oversized Gollum hanging from the roof and reaching for a fish.

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5: Marrakech Menara Airport, Morocco

Geometric patterned walls at Menara airport (Dreamstime)

Geometric patterned walls at Menara airport (Dreamstime)

Mixing traditional and modern architecture, Menara airport perfectly reflects Marrakech’s rise as a sophisticated short break destination. Its curved, concrete roof and large triangular windows painted with Arabic designs is visually stunning and cleverly designed to let in natural light and generate electricity by incorporating photovoltaic modules.

 

6: Terminal 3, Beijing International Airport, China

The Red Terminal (Dreamstime)

The Red Terminal (Dreamstime)

Opened just before the 2008 Olympics, the Terminal 3 at Beijing International Airport is a typical piece of Sir Norman Foster statement architecture. At two-miles long, it is one of the largest buildings in the world, and uses a complex mesh to allow sunlight in. The building is designed to represent a dragon and features a traditional Chinese color scheme that only heightens the drama as you disembark your plane.

 

7: Lleida-Alguaire Airport, Lleida, Spain

The exterior of Lleida-Alguaire airport (Creative Commons: zkvrev)

The exterior of Lleida-Alguaire airport (Creative Commons: zkvrev)

Clad in metal plates in shades of olive, green and brown, the Lleida-Alguaire airport in Catalonia is certainly one of the most stylish airport terminal around. Sadly, the financial crisis of 2008 means that not as many people have got to admire it is as planned. Designed to handle 400,000 passengers a year; it now welcomes fewer than 40,000.

 

Main image: Close up of walls at Menara Airport, Marrakech  (Dreamstime)