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Oh canucklad, you have also hit the nail on the head. The original plan from Sir Norman was, I believe, the X-shape, with a significant element of future-proofing. So I don’t blame him. Who I *should* blame is a whole different (and very lengthy) story…
The only airports I can think of that I have genuinely enjoyed as an experience – but this is in the early days before they started being expanded – were Koh Samui, Hong Kong and Singapore (Changi). All have outgrown their original designs and become a lot more painful.
I should have included another one in my original list, though, which I loathe with a truly visceral hatred (because it was such an incredibly wasted opportunity) – Bangkok Suvarnabhumi. They had the ability to build a truly iconic, well-thought-out, efficient hub airport. Instead they built a complete mess with incredibly long walks required on every single trip I have taken from there or transit I have made through there. The check-in area is dire, the lounges are woeful, and I can’t think of a single thing about it that I like. And to think they started with a completely clean sheet, and not that long ago… At least some awful airports had the excuse that their original design was fit for purpose. Suvarnabhumi was a disaster from the very first day.