[This post was first published at Spotted By Locals in August 2010]
Prof John D Kasarda's (somewhat oversimplistic) diagram of Airport Cities

Airports in the 21st Century are no longer just transit points. With unprecedented levels of global connectedness and air travel, they’ve become the new places to live, work and play.

They’re increasingly becoming places to conduct business, entertain and be entertained, to rest and relax, to exchange knowledge – and since they’re very often the first point of contact for passengers with the cities and regions these airports serve – a showcase for the cultural and historical heritage of the place.

Although Prof John Kasarda has waxed eloquent about the urban agglomerations – the Aerotropolises – that arise around airports, I’m also interested in the mini cities that have sprung up inside many airports – within and just outside the Terminal.

Driven by the need of Airports to diversify their business in order to continue being profitable, a number of airports are converting themselves from just being a transit point to being destinations in their own right. Duty free shopping and business conferencing is so last century – airports now have live music performances, spas and gyms, places to sleep and shower, nature trails and gardens, gaming and music booths, golf courses and driving ranges , and even theatres, museums and cinemas!

Munich Airport in Germany has a minigolf range on its premises and also a large venue for events, exhibitions and popular markets.

You can leave your Porsche at the Porsche Centre at Dusseldorf Airport to have it serviced while you travel, or if you don’t have one, buy one right there! If that’s not you, you can admire the entire Porsche range including its older models in the Porsche gallery within the same centre!

And if you’re an art lover, you don’t need to go much beyond the airport in Amsterdam – the airport hosts a permanent annexe of the famous Rijksmuseum with classics such as Rembrandt and Van Gogh on display!

Although of late, like everything else, much of the ground-breaking stuff is happening at Asian airports, there’s huge scope for more at European airports as well. What would you like to see and experience at your airport?

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