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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Aero-kinaesthetics : airport aesthetics and the regulation of mobilities in the terminal Hubregtse, Menno Jacobus Stuart


This dissertation introduces an aesthetic type named "aero-kinaesthetics" which offers a new understanding of the operation of major international air terminals. It allows for a critical comprehension of the terminal's objective of securely processing passengers as well as its more spectacular features involving commercial facilities and cultural components. Although this analysis of aero-kinaesthetics is based on the design of numerous international terminals, it focuses on Hong Kong International Airport, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, London Heathrow Terminal 5, and Vancouver's YVR. This investigation not only examines the architecture and design at these four sites but also the sculptures and installations commissioned for their publicly accessible spaces. Aero-kinaesthetics encompasses two aspects of airport aesthetics pertaining to movement. The first aspect is a functional aesthetic determined by the airport's role as both a mobility-system that regulates and processes passengers and as a consumption centre that relies on profits generated by passenger spending. The second aspect of aero-kinaesthetics, which pertains to the original meaning of aesthetics as 'perception by feeling,' considers how air terminal artworks and design might operate on an affective register to elicit virtual sensations of kinaesthesia. Air terminal artworks and design often have movement-related themes. This visual imagery in many cases refers to a quality of movement that is less restricted than the kind of movement that is typically experienced by passengers transiting through the terminal. These two aspects operate in tandem. While the first aspect of airport aesthetics is exploited at my four sites to organize passengers' movements into ordered, directional stop-and-go flows, the second aspect appears as visual imagery that represents relatively unconstrained movements. The first three chapters examine how and to what extent these two aspects appear at my four sites. The fourth chapter considers how aero-kinaesthetics pertains to the political aspects of controlling passenger movement across borders. The final chapter addresses how this dissertation is a new type of investigation of spatial practices.

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