Evacuate the Airport

A much longer post to follow on the work i’ve been doing on evacuation – in a more historical/military and medical logistical register – but I wanted to plug two things. The first is a conference I’ve been invited to at Harvard next week, in their Graduate School of Design, called Airport Landscape: urban ecologies in the aerial age, organised by Sonja Dumpelmann and Charles Waldheim. It is incredibly exciting first to be at Harvard and second to be amongst a huge range of authors, writers and designers i’ve been following for a really long time. There are keynotes from Peter Galison, David Pascoe and others.

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Whilst I’m there i’ll be drawing on a tangential part of my evacuation work to look at airports again, and to examine how through war, disaster or the movement of capital airports take on this literally terminal guise as they are killed or repurposed through territorial conflict (Cyprus’s Nicosia International Airport has been pretty well documented), civil war or simply investment elsewhere. The airport a last exit point. A large part of the paper will focus on Libya and the vectors of evacuation mobility, the battle for the airport, along with the changing architectures of airspace, the no-fly zone and ramifications across Europe.

The other theme at play here, is how airports are left in the wake of events. I recently wrote a short, more creative piece on Tegel’s Termination for the book Tegel: Speculations and Propositions, edited by Susanne Prinz, Jaspar Joseph-Lester and Julie Westerman, who have collected a wonderful array of writings and art works that respond and ruminate on the demise of Tegel Airport, which was born in the chaos of the Berlin Airlift in the French occupied sector of West Berlin. My piece is both in-line with the geopolitical conflict i just mentioned, but explores these tensions in relation to a more contemporary industrial ruination (see Tim Edensor’s work in this area) as the airport promises to be closed, even if its infrastructure might stubbornly remain.

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PA

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