‘The swan prepares to take flight’ – Moscow Sheremetyevo T3 set to join ranks of iconic world airports


Since the days of air travel began, airports have been both gateways to the world and have played a part in reflecting the culture of the city or country they serve. Some, like Hong Kong International, Heathrow T5 or Beijing T3, have entered the popular imagination and excited heated debate about their merits as buildings and their style. Whether you love them or loathe them, it’s hard to ignore them. 

Having visited the new Terminal 3 (or Terminal D as it will be known) at Moscow Sheremetyevo this week, we think it too is ready to join the ranks of truly iconic world airport terminals when it opens in the coming months. And it’s a building whose design lies firmly rooted in Russian popular culture.

The shape is modelled around that of a swan, with its long ‘neck’ protruding 90 metres over the foreground of the glass-fronted terminal (see above) and its wings stretching out on either side. And the thinking behind the swan? It was inspired by one of Russia’s most famous ballets, Swan Lake, by Peter Tchaikovsky, according to architect Dmitriy Pshenichnikov, who wanted to build the airport with an eye on Russian culture and traditions.

 The interior that is taking shape is impressive too. Its centrepiece is a huge dome that will greet inbound passengers, in the shape of the leaves of a flower, apparently inspired by an image of many people joining hands together.

Like the story of Swan Lake itself, SVO3’s path has not been a smooth one, with a series of delays to the opening over the past year hindering its progress. But once it finally opens, we think it can become famous and iconic in its own right, just like the iconic Tchaikovsky work that inspired its design.

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