Prue Leith’s spirit is uplifted by the billowing roof and sense of fun in Richard Rogers’ airport terminal in Madrid. But Oxford’s John Radcliffe hospital makes her sick
The Richard Rogers-designed terminal at Madrid Barajas airport is colourful, efficient and easy to navigate. I first encountered it about three years ago and it was like stepping into another world. I was struck by the airy lightness, sense of fun, spaciousness and realisation that the architect had thought about the customer’s needs. From the outside it looks like a shiny sculpture sleeping in the grass. Inside it is a wonderland, with changing colours, space-like lights and Dalek-style air-conditioning units.
The most striking thing is the great waved plywood roof that billows between huge supporting ribs that change gradually from blue to green to yellow to orange to red. It lies in the middle of a plain, with open views to the mountains. The Spanish government obviously poured money into it to make it fit for the next 50 years, and it is.
Terminal 4 at Madrid Barajas airport, designed by Richard Rogers Partnership and Spanish architect Antonio Lamela, opened in 2006, doubling aircraft and passenger capacity. The £1bn, 1 million m2 project was the largest scheme ever undertaken by Rogers’ practice.
In October 2006, it was awarded the Stirling prize.
The John Radcliffe hospital, named after an 18th-century physician and Oxford graduate, sits on Headington Hill, overlooking the city. The first of its two buildings opened in 1972 and the second, much larger development, in 1979. A west wing, built by Carillion, was completed in 2006.