High class in Catalonia

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

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Anyone interested in the evolution of airport terminal buildings should jump on the next flight to Barcelona El Prat Airport’s new Terminal 1.

The Catalan airport has long been a favourite of many people I respect highly in this business but the new terminal represents a whole new quality dimension.

I have seen many splendid new terminals in recent years – Heathrow T5, Changi T3, Beijing T3, for example. T1 at El Prat is right up there with them.

It features a gloriously seductive roof, shaped like a soft, undulating wave. Natural light pours into the terminal from the long strands of skylights in the ceiling and the glass panel surrounds.

The central Sky Plaza, which features much of the extensive commercial offer, is one of the nicest areas I have seen in any airport anywhere. There is a tremendous – but not cavernous – sense of space and a relaxed ambience that I have never seen in an airport environment.

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How many airports around the world truly feel as if they are an absolutely appropriate gateway for a particular city or region? Terminal 1 does. It’s modernist – as one would expect from a city that gave us the genius of Gaudi; it’s bright, as befitting its Mediterranean location; and it’s a nice mix of the cultural and the commercial, just as Barcelona is.

Inevitably when I tour new airports it’s a case of noting what you can while rushing around often vast spaces. But on this occasion the impressions were more than superficial. The atmosphere of T1 stays with you long after you have gone. And isn’t that what the travel experience – which an airport should be part of and so often isn’t, other than in a negative sense – should be all about?

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