Foster and Partners have designed a new airport for the Isle of Grain in the Thames Estuary. The proposal would alleviate congestion at London’s other busy airports, taking on 110 million passengers at a new location that would also cut down on noise and air traffic over the city. With location near water, the architects hope the Thames Hub Airport will provide an alternative to building a third runway at Heathrow Airport.
With the positioning of the Thames Hub, planes could approach the airport from the water, cutting noise and pollution directly overhead London. Adjoining to the city’s already sophisticated high speed train system, the airport could be accessible by High Speed 1, High Speed 2 and Crossrail, with commuting times of just 26 minutes from St. Pancras or 40 from Waterloo.
Foster and Partners proposed the project as an alternative to adding more runways to the already crowded Heathrow Airport, which has been in talks to build over the next sixteen years. With a hefty price tag of almost $37 billion, the Thames Hub Airport would still be less than the cost of adding to Heathrow, and would moreover coincide with the city’s rapid eastern expansion. Redevelopment of the land surrounding the new airport would also create an eastern cultural hub comparable to the sustainable commercial center at Canary Wharf.
Interestingly, the architects’ plan also addresses issues related to global warming and rising sea waters—the design includes a flood protection plan and builds on the infrastructure of green transportation already in place.