Brussels Airport Connector UNStudio
Brussels. Home to those little leafy, green balls which are the dread of all American children’s dinner vegetable serving. But in all seriousness, Brussels is rapidly becoming the heartstring of Europe, providing much more than a daily serving of iron. Last year Brussels Airport, in a desire to become a European hub for air travel, hosted a competition for future development.
I remember as a child, the wonder of visiting the airport. To defy the gods, to lift up into the air and soar is a dream every child who has broken a limb jumping off of something has had. ‘I must get a seat by the window to watch the take off and landing!’ And those little aviator wings that the check-in stewardess would stick with poor adhesive to your shirt! Pure euphoria. And then you grow up. And to go to the airport means long line, American safety protocols, moving walkways packed with people standing in the middle so that everyone must share in their stagnate dissolution towards modern travel. The wonder is lost, the burden is abundantly found.
And yet as I set here writing, I get a chill when I look at the first image of UNStudio’s response, the Connector Building. It could be that I am sitting out on a porch in a mid-march rainstorm, but I think it is more than that- I am wearing a coat. The Connector seems to me to be that whoosh of air and engines, heard directly before take-off, made corporeal. Handling security functions, passenger flow and the all important duty-free shopping and dining options, its fluid form embodies that drastic movement that airports allude to.
I learned from Star Trek that Wanting is often more satisfying than having. I would add that buying is more satisfying than sitting bored. In accord, the Connector stands as a retail spine that spans between coming and going. Passing through, double height supports reminisce of flocking birds, denying the stagnation so often felt in layover. Hovering above the rest is the Cockpit which features a light cafe, offering views of the flocks and features within as well as the fleets of aircraft without. I daresay that if this Connector where in existence 30 years ago, the Rt. Honourable Jim Hacker MP would have certainly had cause to go to Brussels.
Project description from UNStudio,
Brussels Ainnector, Brussels, Belgium, 2011
The design for the Brussels Airport Connector Building focuses on providing a highly efficient, flexible infrastructural element that connects to and negotiates the existing airport architecture. The connector is part of the future ambition of the Brussels Airport to create a European hub in Brussels. The design approach ensures cohesive functioning of the three buildings, with the Connector Building establishing a seamless connection between the two contrasting identities of the terminal and Pier A, whilst simultaneously creating its own new identity.
The Connector incorporates logistical efficiency in handling passenger flows, security and operational processes. Additionally, opportunities for commercial activity are maximized with the newly expanded, double-story commercial area of the Connector, creating a fully-integrated retail zone as the main programmatic spine. The post-screening area with fast duty-free shopping and a horizontal organization gradually morphs into a double-height central plaza housing the main cafe, from where the high-end boutique stores begin. Surrounding the central plaza is the elevated Cockpit – the highest occupied point of the Connector with a light cafe boasting the best views of the bustling plaza and shopping area below, as well as the fleeting fields of airplanes outside.
Courtesy of UNSTudio