The results are in for the Fentress Global Challenge Airport of the Future design competition, sponsored by international design firm Fentress Architects. Sadly, they have chosen not to display the winning concept boards at a legible resolution on their website, but from what little we can glean, the ideas of both the winners and finalists are fascinating. A central problem with airports is where to tuck them, and here we have a host of interesting suggested solutions.
First Prize winner and Londonite Oliver Andrew's proposal is for a floating airport built from pre-fab artifical islands. To locate an airport in the Thames Estuary directly addresses the problem of overtaxed Heathrow being unable to expand due to limitations imposed by surrounding communities. And the water would serve a dual purpose: Andrew's design calls for hydropowered electricity generation.
Third Prize winner Alexander Nevarez of Art Center suggests Pocket Airports, a network of micro airports that would be located within skyscrapers themselves. The idea is intriguing, though we cannot ascertain what form of propelled vehicle Nevarez proposes due to the website's poor presentation. A pity as we'd like to learn more about this concept.
Thor Yi Chun of Malaysia's University of Science won an honorable mention for his Aero-Loop concept. Again the details are not revealed, but judging from the photo it seems as if Chun is proposing circular runways, which would be a fascinating space-saving trick, assuming it's aeronautically and logistically possible.
Ryu Ri of South Korea's Kookmin University was another honorable mention winner, and like Andrew he proposes moving the airport onto the water. Ri's concept, however, proposes it be a straight-line bridge connecting two landmasses, providing plenty of linear runway space and presumably containing transportation links at either end.
You can try puzzling out what the concepts propose here, or you can wait to see their inclusion in the "Now Boarding: Fentress Airports and The Architecture of Flight" exhibition, which opens this summer in America and will travel the world until 2015.