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Stansted terminal is 20 years old

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Page last updated: 21st Mar 2011 - 04:53 PM

Stansted Airport’s main terminal has been standing for more than two decades, according to officials at the Essex-based hub.

Completed in 1991, and opened by the Queen just four days later, the hub’s main building is commonly referred to as the Lord Foster Terminal, after its 75-year-old designer, Norman Foster. Lord Foster is a famous British architect, known for his work on Wembley Stadium, the headquarters of HSBC in Hong Kong, and the Reichstag in Germany. Many of Lord Foster’s designs are modern structures, containing cubic shapes forged from glass and steel.

Stansted Airport, which handles around 18m travellers per year, is a fine example of Lord Foster’s design ethos. The terminal building is a gigantic glass cube, supported by ‘nests’ of metal posts. The airy structure, seated on 500,000sq ft of Essex countryside, stands level with the tops of the trees in Hatfield Forest, a design feature that required the destruction of a hillside in 1981. Unfortunately, whilst the hub’s rather violent intrusion into the green fields of southeastern England has left few obvious scars on the landscape, the local villages of Chickney and Stansted Mountfitchet remain plagued by noise and air pollution, and a rapidly souring housing market.

Nick Barton, director at Stansted, said that the airport’s 1,300 staff members were “extremely proud” that the Lord Foster-designed terminal is “still as good today as it was when Her Majesty the Queen opened it twenty years ago”. Surprisingly, many of the baggage handlers and security guards that celebrated the terminal’s twentieth year on earth were present for the Queen’s visit in the early nineties. Trevor Waldock, a former security guard at Stansted, recalled how equipment was moved from the old terminal into the Lord Foster building “overnight”, by carrying it across the runway. Mr. Waldock referred to the transfer as “symbolic”.

Speaking to the BBC News website, Spencer de Grey, head at Foster and Partners, said that the firm did not want to emulate the “expensive” and inefficient design of Heathrow and Gatwick airports, when first presented with the task of creating a new terminal at Stansted. “We literally turned upside down the traditional terminal”, Mr. de Grey said, in reference to Stansted’s twenty-year-old building.

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