South African airport designs
Did you know?
OR Tambo International Airport outside Johannesburg began life as Jan Smuts Airport in 1952.
‘It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on Earth has ever produced the phrase, "as pretty as an airport", said the late Douglas Adams in his novel, The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul.
He continued: ‘Airports are ugly. Some are very ugly. Some attain a degree of ugliness that can only be the result of a special effort.’
That was decades ago. But modern airport design has ensured that the world now has some very special airport destinations - and South Africa is right up there with the best.
South African airports have been designed to have our visitors from here and abroad welcomed in a warm, comfortable and user-friendly fashion.
The country’s leading airport – OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) in Johannesburg - caters for nearly 20-million passengers annually. It hosts airlines from all 5 continents. And once you walk in, you will be impressed by the overall design, the generous use of hall space and all the services, including foreign exchange outlets, boutiques and restaurants, on offer.
The latest major feature to ORTIA is the Central Terminal Building, which links domestic and international terminals to the multi-storey parking lot and the Gautrain station. ORTIA has become a true ‘aero city’ with its hundreds of shops, restaurants, business centres and travel services.
Cape Town International Airport has also undergone a series of major revamps and extensions, including a sophisticated new Central Terminal Building. The airport – South Africa’s 2nd biggest – consistently wins major awards for design, functionality and warmth of receiving staff.
The totally new King Shaka International Airport north of Durban was named after the iconic Zulu king who once ruled this part of South Africa. It, too, has been built as a functional and efficient airport that lets in lots of natural light. With its curved metal roof, it reminds one of an aircraft wing.
One of the most remarkable airport designs in South Africa, however, comes from the grouping of smaller domestic destinations: the Phalaborwa Airport in Limpopo, one of the gateways to the Kruger National Park.
Phalaborwa Airport was designed by Oliver Wills as the visitor’s first taste of the African bushveld.
‘My intention was to create a building that a tourist – full of excitement for a whole new adventure – would like to see. I wanted to start their journey into a game reserve on the right note,’ he says.
With its thatched roof, wildlife sculptures and whimsical natural décor – including animal imprints on the cement floor of the terminal building – Phalaborwa Airport often comes out tops in travellers’ books.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Aiports Company of South Africa (ACSA)
Tel: +27 (0)86 727 7888