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Sea Planes

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A proposal to replace London’s Heathrow Airport calls for a new European hub airport that will literally float on the waters of London’s Thames Estuary.

According to Ian Mulcahey, principal and comanaging director of architecture firm Gensler, the floating London Britannia Airport solves a major infrastructure problem that plagues the European capital. “In the UK, land is at an absolute premium,” Mulcahey says. “Airports are very land-hungry and they cause a lot of disturbance to the city residents.” Mulcahey says the proposed design for London Britannia Airport minimizes the impact of airport land use on local citizens and the environment.

The airport would float atop a reef-like island, with runways tethered to the seabed and the floating concourse. This design would allow airport administrators to add or remove runways as traffic and maintenance dictate. Additionally, the airport would offset environmental impact: the floating structure would provide a new habitat for existing marine life, and marine turbines situated along the runways would generate sustainable power. Passengers would access London Britannia from underwater rail tunnels that would connect to three land-based departure/arrival terminals—two located north and south of the estuary, and a third in Central London.

Heathrow? It would be transformed into an eco-city, with the existing infrastructure providing homes for 300,000 people.

Bobbie Hartman

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