August 12, 2009

Going without staying :: Airports and bridges

Last week I had to be in five different airports: the biggest one being Heathrow, the smallest one was Quito's VIP terminal (VIP doesn't stand for Very Important People, it is just the name of the airline), which is as small as my flat. All in all I spent like 30 hours of the last week in airports. A lot. Very bad for people like me who doesn't like them.

Airports have something repulsive. They are places of transit, being the rolling bands their perfect symbol: going, coming back, going, rolling, moving always in or out, the only two movements allowed: ir y venir, hin und her. Period. Too much movement contrasts with the limitation of those two possible movements. That is exactly why people move so fast, trying to get out of the airport as soon as possible, since it is not more than a necessary condition in order to be there, in the desire destination (where all kinds of movements are possible: up and down, in circles, left or right, backward and forward, zigzag...).

Now, airport designers are trying (unsuccesfully) to make them "a nice place to stay" or "to spent the time". That is a contradictio in terminis, since an airport is by itself a temporary place. But since there is always an exception to confirm the rule, Sir, Alfred Mehran's lived 18 years in the Terminal 1 of Parisian airport Charles de Gaulle.

The same can be said about bridges: two directions to go, a "place" to connect to real places. Following the "stay-in-the-airport-philosophy", some architects want to transform bridges into places of staying, specially in China. One of these bridges "should provide for a dedicated space on the river, a room over the water, more than merely acting as an engineering device that solves a communication problem." Mexican architect Fernando Romero finished already one in Jinhua City, China, and is working on another similar project in Matamoros, Mexico.

(The Ponte Vecchio is an exception worth of mentioning, since it has always hosted some houses and shops.)

Some of the most beautiful (Chinese) bridges are the lángqiáo, built by the Dong people. They serve the basic purpose of crossing a river in order to join two shores. Plus: The roofs offer a shelter for wind and rain. They are beautifully designed, and are not intellectually pretentious.

This way or that way, as you wish, just keep walking. Do not stop. Not in airports and bridges.


Anonymous said...

A very nice post! But, I didn't get one thing: which ones you like/hate less/more- bridges or airports?

Enrique G de la G said...

I love bridges!
I hate airports!