The London branch of international firm Gensler has released concepts for a floating new aviation hub on The Thames which it asserts can be completed within the next ten years. The groundbreaking scheme would be the first 24/7 airport in the United Kingdom and the largest floating airport in the world.
Speaking on the unveiling this afternoon, Chris Johnson, Managing Principal at Gensler and Creative Director for the airport said: “This is a once in a century project that will build on the capital’s reputation for innovation and creativity and provide a new symbol of national pride. This is a fantastic opportunity to rethink the problems created by a redundant 20th century airport model and provide a genuine 21st century airport that creates a new standard for the world, minimising nuisance and maximising environmental benefits.”
Gensler is presenting the project as part of a wider development including existing airport Heathrow, suggesting the development of a new eco-city on its premises under the title ‘Heathrow Gardens’. The design team proposes utilising the existing infrastructure onsite to provide homes for 300,000 residents and employment opportunities for more than 200,000 workers.
Project Director, Ian Mulcahey furthers: “This will be a ‘national’ infrastructure project that can inject new pace and dynamism into our economy. The airport can be quickly manufactured in the ship yards and steel works across the UK and can be floated by sea and positioned in the Estuary. This isn’t a London Airport; it is a Global Airport, designed, manufactured and built in the UK.”
The scheme’s main competitor is Foster + Partners’ Thames Hub, a major transportation development stretching the length of the United Kingdom but centred at a hub in London. The wider plans include: a £20bn high-speed Orbital Rail line around London; a new £6bn Thames Barrier and crossing; and a £20bn international Estuary Airport, with annual capacity for 150 million passengers. The total estimated cost of the project is £50bn.