The scale of Norman Foster’s infrastructure vision for the UK expanded last week when the 76-year-old starchitect claimed his plan to build a £50 billion hub airport in the Thames Estuary should be funded by the closure of Heathrow
During a University of Oxford lecture, Foster revealed a grand plan that would see the UK’s busiest airport sold to raise £12 billion or ‘50 per cent of the new airport’.
So, what would he have become of Heathrow? The 1,200-hectare west London site ‘could become an equivalent to California’s Silicon Valley’, combining a university, commercial and special economic zones, a technology park, entertainment spaces and ‘incredible green lungs’.
If any further convincing was required, Foster also pointed out the ‘risk and noise’ caused by Heathrow which he explained: ‘[Is] one of the very few airports in the world which is over-flown by its final approach, over a city of some seven million people.’ Citing the 2008 crash-landing of a British Airways flight from Beijing, he added: ‘If that had happened one minute earlier, then it defies the imagination the carnage that would have resulted from it.’
While welfare remains a principal concern, if this grand vision were built it would certainly lend an added cash benefit to the architect. Last week, Foster shelled out $21.9 million (£13.9 million) for a historic farmhouse and estate on the prestigious Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard. President Barack Obama has rented Blue Heron Farm for the past three summers and Bill and Hillary Clinton attended a dinner party there in 2008. Astragal awaits an invite.
Now Foster rethinks Heathrow