The Aerotropolis: Imagining Sky Cities of The Future

After the golden age of airplanes in the 1950s, are we entering the golden age of airports?

The airport is a mandatory part of the travel journey, which we rush through as fast as possible. What if it became a destination of its own? The concept isn’t new or fictional. Major airports around the world have adopted development plans to boost their offering, from entertainment and business services within their premises to ambitious projects in surrounding areas. The end result? The Aerotropolis.

The Taoyuan Aerotropolis Plan

A sky-savvy equivalent of the metropolis, the aerotropolis is a metropolitan sub region where the layout, infrastructure, and economy are centered around an airport. In short, an “airport city” or “sky city”. Airports are to the 21st century what highways were in the 20th century, railroads in the 19th century, and ports in the 18th century. “City activities gravitate around the airport, people live within the aerotropolis and economy grows with the airport. With the airport being at the center, its own development and success is paramount”, explains Frank Lin, General Manager at WSP in Taiwan. “The Taiwan government has initiated the Taoyuan Aerotropolis plan, in which our work on Terminal 3 is embedded. It will probably take a decade to achieve the vision.” Once completed, the project will cover 68 km2 and is expected to create 300,000 jobs and increase GDP by 10%.

As we travel by air more and more, the surrounding infrastructure must be able to accommodate that growth. Successful examples of aerotropolises include Schiphol in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Heathrow in London, UK and Changi in Singapore. Beyond a superior airport experience, these destinations have been carefully thought out and planned to offer efficient transit options and everything that locals and visitors would need within a small perimeter.