Posted by: doorstoautomatic | March 2, 2010

Outside Airside

Just back from Barcelona and the first time through BCN’s new Terminal 1. It is, as they say in Portugal, fucking massive.

BCN T1 from the air

BCN T1 from the air

Not just big in a Shanghai Pudong kind of way, it’s huge – Like KLIA or Bangkok, but without the palm trees. It puts LHR T5 to shame, which is ironic, given that the Spanish own Heathrow, but I suppose Aena had lots of newly reclaimed land to play with that wasn’t an option in London unless they drained and concreted over one of those reservoirs just west of the 09 threshold (not a bad idea for an alternative 3rd runway location).

Anyway, it’s all very clean and tidy inside and clearly the contracted manufacturers of frosted glass will be retiring to the Maldives on the strength of their sale to the Catalan airport, but the really cool thing about BCN T1 – and a true ‘Doors to Automatic’ innovation is the airside outside area.

This is a phenomenal idea. Usually after going airside you can whistle for any fresh air, outside space, or, if at LHR T1, 2 or 3, an outside view. Since the closure of viewing terraces for no good reason over the last 15 years, one is now held in a glass box until snatching a final blast of fresh air on the airbridge, only to be denied once again as you enter the closed loop of the cabin.

Barcelona have built into the terminal design two airside courtyards where you can go and sit on a bench, or walk around, have a smoke (if that’s your thing), just take the air and look through the green glass out to the planes on the apron.

The knee-jerk security concern that says people airside cannot be outside anywhere near the planes that are about to be their homes for the next few hours is still respected, because it’s a courtyard. You are still penned in by four walls, but they’re glass, and it doesn’t feel like being coralled. It feels new, open and fresh – connected with the purpose of the airport. Bravo Barcelona.



  1. I am a manufacturer of frosted glass, and I’d just like to say how much I enjoyed this post. Looking forward to reading more from doors to automatic as I sit back in my gold-plated recliner. All the best.

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