Stansted Airport

Foster + Partners, Stansted, 1991


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A service tree 

Richard Davies     Download Original

  • A service tree    
  • Drop off and pick up area    
  • Passengers mull under the canopy at the entrance to the airport    
  • Roof detail showing the trees that form it    
  • Ramp leading to station with glazed enclosure    
  • Detail of a skylight    
  • Passengers on the brightly lit main concourse    
  • Departure lounge on the airside of the terminal    
  • Departure lounge showing shop units    
  • Structural trees contain signage and services    
  • Detail of signage    
  • Check-in desks    
  • Walkway    
  • Bus stop in the car park    
  • The building lit up at night    
  • The train station    
  • A train pulls into the station    
  • Detail of the roof    
  • Shops on the main concourse    
  • North elevation of terminal showing curtain wall at dusk    
  • Location plan    
  • Site plan    
  • Concourse plan    
  • Undercroft plan    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • First floor plan    
  • Section through satellite terminal    
  • Concept sketch    
  • Concept diagram    
  • Concept sketch of trains    
  • Birkin Haward perspective of the concourse    
  • Proposed construction sequence    
  • Exloded axonometric of services tree    
  • Exploded axometric of tree incorporating services    
  • Isometric  section through eaves    
  • Section through eaves    
  • Hinge detail    
  • Elevation of screens    
  • Exploded isometric of screens    
  • Section through solid core screen    

Airport terminal arranged over two levels under a lightweight roof with separate satellite terminals and mainline railway station

Passengers proceed in a fluid movement from the set-down point through to the check-in area, passport control and departure lounges, where they can see the planes. From there, an automated transit system takes them to satellite buildings to board their aircraft.

This was achieved by turning the building upside down, banishing the heavy environmental service installations usually found at roof level to an undercroft that runs beneath the entire concourse floor. This level also contains baggage handling and was able to accommodate a mainline railway station, which was integrated into the building late in the design process.

All services are contained within the trunks of the structural trees that rise up from the undercroft through the concourse floor. These trees support a lightweight roof entirely daylit on all but the most overcast days. This has significant energy and economic advantages, leading to running costs half those of any other British terminal. Stansted is energy efficient, environmentally discreet within its rural setting, technologically advanced yet simple to use and experience.


  • Begun: Jun 1987
  • Completed: Mar 1991
  • Sector: Transport
  • Total cost: £400M
  • Address: Stansted Airport, Stansted, CM24 1RW, United Kingdom

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