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Brief Published: 25 May 2012

Heathrow Airport’s Art Installation


British sculptor Richard Wilson has just unveiled plans to create the longest permanent sculpture in Europe – located in Heathrow’s central court in Terminal 2, which is due to open in 2014. The announcement fuels the philosophy that airports need to be far more than just transient spaces.

Currently going by the title Slipstream, the sculpture is the winning entry in a competition devised by London-based ‘place-making’ creative consultancy Futurecity. The consultancy was commissioned by Heathrow to devise a plan to raise the airport’s cultural profile on a global scale. Aiming to enhance the cultural experience for the estimated 20 million passengers who fly through the terminal each year, the project is due to be completed to coincide with the terminal’s opening in two years’ time. 

According to the artist, the aluminium sculpture – whose dramatic twists and turns have been created with aeronautic-style precision engineering – aims to evoke the form and sense of movement of a stunt plane. It will move in and out of the architectural fabric of the building as it floats through the space, snaking across the atriums at 20 metres above the ground. Weighing an impressive 77 tonnes and measuring 76 metres long, the design will be equivalent to the size of an Airbus A380 plane. 

For a deeper insight into how airports are adapting their spatial design to keep passengers engaged, see our report New Airport Design: Spaces to Romance the Traveller.


Richard Wilson

Heathrow Airport