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The Airport of the Future

Winners of the 2016 Fentress Global Challenge have been revealed. In this award, students were challenged to rethink airport architecture.

  • FIRST PLACE: Airport Under the Forest Park, (Shanghai, China) by Xingqiao Li, Fang Yu, Que Wang of Xi’an University of Architecture and Technology. Image courtesy of Xingqiao Li, Fang Yu and Que Wang

  • FIRST PLACE: Airport Under the Forest Park, (Shanghai, China) by Xingqiao Li, Fang Yu, Que Wang of Xi’an University of Architecture and Technology. Image courtesy of Xingqiao Li, Fang Yu and Que Wang

  • FIRST PLACE: Airport Under the Forest Park, (Shanghai, China) by Xingqiao Li, Fang Yu, Que Wang of Xi’an University of Architecture and Technology. Image courtesy of Xingqiao Li, Fang Yu and Que Wang

  • SECOND PLACE: Hong Kong Aerocenosis (Hong Kong) by Anna Andronova of Kazan State University of Architecture and Engineering, Kazan, Russia. Image courtesy of Anna Andronova

  • THIRD PLACE: Caravanserai (Dubai, United Arab Emirates) by Rafat Jahandideh of Manchester School of Architecture. Image courtesy of Rafat Jahandideh

  • PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARD: Destination CDG (Paris, France) by by Michel Ghostine and Christian Ghanem of Université Saint-Esprit de Kaslik, Jounieh, Lebanon. Image courtesy of Michel Ghostine and Christian Ghanem



BY Janice Seow

January 20th, 2017


Established by international design firm Fentress Architects in 2011, the Fentress Global Challenge is an international student competition conceived to stimulate new thinking amongst young architects about what public architecture could be. “Fentress Global Challenge is aimed at giving young designers an opportunity to think about the future. They open my eyes and many other people’s eyes to the possibilities that we may have closed out because we are so close to the everyday facts of building today that we are not thinking about the future, “explains Curtis W. Fentress, the Design Principal of Fentress Architects.

In 2016, the competition invited contestants to ponder “The Airport of the Future”. Having designed multiple award-winning airports, Fentress Architects believe that the airport is a building type that needs to be talked about. “[The competition is] an opportunity to reinvent and to create new environments [for the airport],” says Fentress. Out of over 600 entries from across 50 countries, three proposals – lauded by the jury for bold conceptual thinking, sensitivity to context and skilful design – were conferred the top prizes.

The first prize was awarded to Xingqiao Li, Fang Yu and Que Wang of Xi’An University of Architecture and Technology in Xi’An, China. Titled Airport Under the Forest Park, the team designed a sculptural airport terminal possessing an elevator system that interconnects underground takeoff runways. Situated amid vast parklands and landscapes, it proposes a more sustainable future for cities in China.

The second prize went to a futuristic entry titled Hong Kong Aerocenosis – a conceptual take to connect Hong Kong’s urban infrastructure inspired by the form of the Chinese dragon. Tailored to Dubai’s transit hub, the third prize marries traditional construction techniques, passive cooling strategies and an innovative use of materials, alongside vast interior gardens to enhance the experience of travelling. In the People’s Choice category, the proposal to reuse existing desolated infrastructure to make Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport more sustainable received the most votes.

The top prize students won USD$15,000 and a four-week paid internship at Fentress Architects. The students in second place received USD$3,000; third place received USD$2,000, and the People’s Choice Award took home USD$1,000.

Find out more about the award in the video below.