US design firm Fentress Architects has announced the 22 projects shortlisted for the 2020 Fentress Global Challenge, a competition for architecture and engineering students from around the world.

The competition focuses on airport architecture, asking participants to imagine what terminals will look like in the year 2100.

Out of 100 entries, the 22 shortlisted projects were selected based on their ability to create a new concept for airport terminals that considers population and environmental forecasts, fosters a cohesive identity and improves primary factors of airport design.

All projects had to be located in one of 20 busiest airports in the world, including Singapore’s Changi, London’s Heathrow and New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International.

“Each year I am ever more impressed by the vision, creativity and practicality set forth by these young architects,” said Fentress Architects principal in charge of design Curtis Fentress.

Participants – including students from the UK’s Bartlett School of Architecture, the US’ Harvard and Malaysia’s University of Malaya – were evaluated on a whole set of benchmarks.

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Criteria included design approach, which has to be “innovative and inspiring”; response to the site, in particular honouring its context and culture; sustainability and resiliency; and functionality.

Some designs focused on transforming airports into multimodal hubs equipped for the next generation of aircraft, as well as rail and other forms of transport. Concepts include Schiphol Airport’s underground Hyperloop connection and self-flying pods for Indira Gandhi International Airport.

Inspired by the current Covid-19 pandemic, several participants imagined airport terminals able to prevent the spread of coronavirus or other future pandemics. These designs included features such as touch-free technology and healing hubs.

“This year’s shortlist couldn’t be more diverse; they range from a modular floating terminal to a self-growing airport integrated into the site’s ecosystem,” added Fentress. “Each concept pioneers creativity, advances innovation and recognises real solutions that would enhance the passenger experience of 2100.”

The competition’s winners will be announced on 2 October. Last year, Daoru Wang, a student from North Carolina State University, won the first prize of $15,000. His design, ‘Infinity Airport’, was inspired by the torus knot and included two overlapping infinity symbols, as well as a ‘drive-through’ runway.