It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression, ‘as pretty as an airport’.
― Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul
NAIA’s redeemed then. But seriously, I suppose the objective of it’s renovation is to increase utility and not just to prettify the place up. Reviews the airport has received from international media implies that. At the terminal, we listen to the familiar voice-over say “<airline> wishes you a pleasant journey ahead” which makes one wonder if it’s just meant to mess with the traveller’s head into thinking that the journey is not about the airport. It is too. So what are the incidental needs and wants of travellers passing through NAIA? It could be as basic as seats, more of these please, or expansion of physical space. Have we already thought of a stacked terminal design? Traditionally, airports are built as huge warehouse-type affairs that eat up a lot of lateral space thus their gargantuan carbon footprints. Is a stacked central terminal with a separate and adjoining space for planes possible? If real estate developers can innovate for their integrated communities why can’t airports? See an example at 2:25-2:42 from Foster+Partners designs:
Purportedly, airport design hasn’t changed because the design of commercial planes hasn’t changed. In other words, if planes are capable of vertical take off airports will be designed around that capability. Back to travellers’ needs and wants which also include efficient customer service as measured for instance by the length of time travellers undergo immigration checks, or improved physical integration of public transport into the physical design of terminal space. Effective customer service such as facilitating the process of travel as for example by installing separate screening gates for travellers with unique needs like the pregnant, nursing, with young children in tow, and the elderly instead of having them line up with all the rest which is the current practice. The above are some of the key result areas that airports all over the world compete on with Changi Airport consistently on the top spot, and it isn’t because the structure is easy on the eyes but rather for outstanding passenger service and quality. Improvements mentioned above are possible when NAIA is managed as a business, one with a strategy toward world class stature.