If I were an architect

If I were an architect, I wonder what my critical eye might make of the design of Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, through which I travelled yesterday.

It’s one of the ugliest airports I’ve ever been to, a sprawling mass of bare concrete that evokes an absolute air of coldness. As you ride the inter-terminal bus from the RER station to Terminal 2, you feel it’s the kind of place that seems to go out of its way to make you feel unwelcome, so oppressive-looking that you feel depressed just going there!

It’s the kind of architectural design that you can quite easily compare to the lack of soul typified by drab building design in the post-World War 2 Soviet era that you saw all over eastern Europe. Certainly not inspired by Stalinist classicism architecture.

Inside, though, it’s quite a different story. There you have some great imagination.

I took this photo yesterday of the roof in the departure area as I waited for my flight back to Amsterdam. This is a view of the beginning of the gate areas as you come out of the security checks.

I’ve flown through CdeG quite a few times and it’s still a breathtaking cathedral-like vista every time your eyes take in the scale of what you’re seeing. It’s still all bare concrete inside the terminal building yet, unlike the exterior of the drab buildings, it is a welcoming sight.

As the saying goes, though, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I wonder what Howard Roark would have made of it all.

By the way, I took the photo above with my Nokia N70 – posted the pic and a couple of others to my moblog – with which my love affair is unending.

6 thoughts on “If I were an architect

  1. As an Ayn Rand fan I have to say that Mr. Roark would not be all to pleased with the exterior architecture that you described. Too much of the modern architecture in Manhattan lacks vision or class. I always find my eyes drifting to classic pre-war buildings with their intricate details and elegance.

  2. Rob, I agree. I think Howard Roark would have regarded the airport architecture with outrage, as a sympton of the stifling establishment he confronted in The Fountainhead.
    Even with an imaginative interior – or perhaps because of that – I reckon he would have reacted to it in exactly the same way, I suspect the outcome for him would have been the same.

  3. If Roark would have hated it, I feel almost obliged to love it, even though I agree. I always figured CdeG was the reason they invented the Eurostar.

  4. If Eurostar had an Amsterdam/Paris service, Paul, I would have taken it! There is Thalys, which is as fast as Eurostar (and the trains are as spiffy-looking) and which I sometimes travel in.
    The problem is that the rail network between Brussels and Amsterdam can’t yet handle really high-speed service. Between Brussels and Paris, though, it’s 300km an hour nearly all the way.
    Anyway, to your comment about Roark. So you’re aligned with Peter Keating’s thinking?

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