London’s Heathrow Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world. It has two runways and both of them operate at 98% of their capacity which essentially means that the airport is already being utilized to its maximum. To tackle a bump in air traffic in the near future, London will inevitably need a new airport or expansion of the current one.
This is where the idea of an architectural firm, Gensler, comes in. The company has proposed the idea of a floating London airport right in the middle of Thames Estuary. Naturally, the project is (very!) highly ambitious and carries an estimated price tag of $80 billion. The structure of this proposed airport would be firmly entrenched into the seabed rather than linking it up with any land.
Moreover, it will comprise of four runways, each of which will be five kilometers long. The parking lot for the passengers’ cars will be built on a land nearby to which you could travel via an underground railway.
While this project is indeed huge, it may sound quite practical (if it works) to such Londoners who are opposed to the expansion of the current Heathrow airport. That expansion, it is argued, will lead to the erosion of residents near the airport and will increase an already sizeable noise footprint in the city.
As much as the idea of a floating airport fascinates one, the big question is that of funding of such a mega-project. As a comparison, the Hong Kong airport, which was a very difficult and ambitious project, did cost about $54B of today’s US dollars.
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