The Airport With The Best Architectural Theme we like is the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia. In an aviation world of glitzy look-alike steel-and-glass edifices sprouting up everywhere, it is refreshing to be welcomed by the local hospitality of a decidedly ethnic-looking airport. Soekarno-Hatta has no pretensions of grandeur, but a down-to-earth friendly Indonesian design. Walls are of clean white concrete with brown pillars that aptly represent traditional wood-carving so typical of the Indonesian lifestyle. The halls and walkways are relatively low, again fairly typical of local residences. There are touches of classical Indonesian handicraft on the wall panels and even at each set of wall-mounted phone-booths.
It is an old-fashioned, slightly weather-beaten and oddly comfortable gateway to the great Indonesian archipelago. My favourite features at Soekarno-Hatta are the lovely small, neatly-manicured gardens outside every departure hall – each a placid little oasis of restful green. From the air, the main terminal of this airport looks decidedly like an Indonesian resort – an apt and evocative symbol of this nation’s great potential for tourism growth.
As the Indonesian economy grows and the tourism industry flourishes, Soekarno-Hatta International Airport will see expansion, renovation and refurbishment. It is my fervent hope that the authorities have the wisdom and vision to preserve this airport's distinctive Indonesian character and uniquely local architectural identity for decades to come. If they do so, it will ensure that Indonesia will have one of the most distinctive international airports in the world, with a truly Indonesia heritage and identity.
Pix by Luc Citrinot