The all-too-familiar scene of travelers racing from one plane to the next through a crowded airport may soon become a thing of the past. Aiming to change the way travelers travel and planes get processed, Amsterdam- and Vienna-based firm Büro für Mehr shifts the paradigm of the typical terminal with its proposal for a Drive-Through Airport. In response to what co-founder Miklos Deri foresees as an inevitable increase in air travel over the next decade, the Drive-Through Airport suggests a shift to smaller, more efficient footprints for airports, with the airplanes moving through them instead of the passengers.
Instead of becoming an aerotropolis, a new airport might operate more like a car wash; Büro für Mehr likens current airport layouts to inefficient mall parking lots with jet-sized spaces, and instead proposes a system that would move planes through three stages of use: arrival, service, and departure, with 15 minutes allotted for each. By moving the planes themselves to these different gates for processing, each "stage" would only be occupied for a third of the process, meaning that an airport could use fewer gates—and in a smaller footprint than would normally be required to operate the same flight capacity. The streamlined layout would also make the experience more user friendly by minimizing distance between gates. Arrival and departure halls would be located above the airplane-processing stations, with transfer passengers and crew moving to their connecting flights via underpasses. Although there are currently no plans to build the proposal, Büro für Mehr is already eyeing the developer market with designs for retail departure halls aimed at increasing commercial revenue. If proposals for similarly streamlined layouts inside planes are any indication, air travel as we know it could soon look very different.