The non-profit organization and cultural platform AERIAL FUTURES organized the event AERIAL FUTURES: Constructed Landscapes, between 19-20 July 2018, exploring how airports are integrating within cities, communities and surrounding land, using Denver International Airport as a case study.

Many airports are located far from cities, buffered by hectares of greenfield. This substantial provision of land safeguards for future expansion and protects urban residents from noise pollution.

As airports take a more prominent role in urban development, can such land also be reimagined as urban space?

AERIAL FUTURES is a non-profit organization and cultural platform exploring innovation in the architecture of flight, technology, and the broader urban mobility ecosystem.

Part of the AERIAL FUTURES research initiative, AERIAL FUTURES: Constructed Landscapes was an event examining the evolving landscape of Denver as related to its airport. Taking place between 19-20 July 2018, the two-day think tank brought together leading thinkers and practitioners to consider the future of Denver and its mobilities.

AERIAL FUTURES: Constructed Landscapes think tank looked for the opportunities and risks faced by the airports in their new role as agents for urban change. Selected participants interrogated the myriad ways that technology is transforming greenfields into connected, integrated airfield communities.

Using Denver International Airport (DEN) as a case study, a new video produced during the AERIAL FUTURES: Constructed Landscapes think tank asks how airports are catalyzing urban development and new modes of mobility.

Featuring interviews with Charles Waldheim (Harvard Graduate School of Design), Curtis Fentress (Fentress Architects), Fred Merrill (Principal, Sasaki), Brent Mather (Design Principal, Gensler), Alan Eckman (VP of Transportation, AECOM), Breanna Faye (Experience Design Lead, rLoop), Jim Jarvis (Senior Vice President, Ricondo), and Matthew Needham (Principal, HOK), this think tank and resulting video asks how Denver Airport is developing its surrounding land in innovative ways, incorporating residential, commercial and public space.

To start with, over the last few decades, Denver’s population has soared, spurring interest in the city’s surrounding undeveloped land and the mobility infrastructure that connects it. Opened in 1995, DEN is the largest commercial airport in the United States and is surrounded by an unusually large area of undeveloped land.

Taking a unique approach to development, the site is envisioned as a living laboratory for autonomous vehicles, zero-energy consumption, and sustainable living.

Technology is transforming the landscape of mobility, connecting DEN to the rest of the region. As the relationship between city and airport continues to strengthen, the land that sits between them will be radically rethought.

As the airport and adjacent communities grow, urban design and transportation infrastructure have never been more critical. Moreover, airports have become more than simply facilities for air travel; today they are a vital part of the urban ecosystem. New high-speed mobility technologies like hyperloop will create previously impossible networks between airports and cities, transforming our understanding of space and urban planning.

There has also been held an earlier think tank titled AERIAL FUTURES: Urban Constellations which explored airport-city interfaces as infrastructure, operating at a metropolitan scale. This think tank used New York City as a case study to trigger responses across disciplines and a relevant video had been made as well. Selected participants reimagined airport constellations as a choreographed urban ecosystem that relies as much on architecture as it does on technology and data-driven design.