Every year, Fentress Architects sponsors a global challenge for students to explore "future design possibilities in public architecture," where the winner gets cash, a paid internship and a part in a major museum exhibition. The 2011 challenge asked students to share their ideas for airports of the future, and the results are in, featuring floating islands, circular runways and zeppelins.
The winning design, pictured above, went to Oliver Andrew's LDN Delta Airport. It's a bunch of artificial floating islands tethered in the middle of the Thames river, and the only way on or off is through public transportation, no cars allowed. There are no check-in desks or anything either, with all of that kind of thing being taken care of through mobile tech. The airport makes its own energy with tidal generators, and it's easy to expand by just hooking on more islands. You might notice a pronounced lack of runways in this picture, and that's because there aren't any. This is the future, and the airport is designed around "vertical takeoff hypersonic jets capable of flying at the edge of space."
Below, have a look at some of the other winners and honorable mentions, including giant zeppelin hangars, airports on bridges, and runways that are circular instead of straight.