WEB EXTRA: Talking Airports with John Marx

Dubbed Portal to the Winds, a competition entry designed by John Marx of Form4 Architecture, in conjunction with a South Korean firm, embodies the winds that buffet the island. Image courtesy Form4 Architecture. Like most architects these days, John Marx travels a lot for projects his firm, Form4 Architecture, has cooking around the world. As such, he’s frequently in airports around the world and has even designed one. In conjunction with Jung-IL Architects, of South Korea, his team created a concept for a competition for an airport on Jeju Island, off the southern tip of South Korea. 

The island, known as the country’s honeymoon capital, has newlyweds by the thousands flocking to its windswept shores and was in need of an airport to accommodate arrivals. While Marx’s take never got off the ground, so to speak, it’s a fantastic example of a structure that blends functionality with a sense of place. 

At its heart, the airport’s swooping curves conjure up visions of the wind that’s responsible for the island’s unique landscape and culture. The gestures Marx and his team designed “can be seen both by air and from land,” he notes, making the statement all the more powerful. Perhaps most notably, passengers arriving from the air get a view of the sweeping stainless steel roof, which establishes the geometry of the structure. Elsewhere, “wings” spin out of the terminal further enhancing the sense of wind currents speeding by. 

As for his own top picks, he gives Amsterdam’s airport high marks (unlike, say the repeating and undifferentiated spaces in Atlanta or the overwhelming scale of Charles de Gaulle in Paris). “It’s architecturally beautifully done,” he says. “It makes you want to go back and spend time there rather than just passing through.” 

For more on architects and airports, become a digital subscriber today and read Michael Webb’s feature on some contemporary architect’s best-loved and most-hated airports. 

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