Barajas Airport in Madrid is Messy Design

Yes, that’s right, Madrid has fired a warning shot across the bow of the design world in Spain. Their aim was pointed squarely in the direction of Barcelona, Spain’s design center. It’s just that this attempt comes somewhere around two decades two late.
This all boils down to the new Terminal 4 and I suppose the number one issue I have with the new terminal (which is the newest and most heavily designed of the four) is that is was just done so that Madrid could thumb their noses at the rest of Spain and dance around singing, “Neener, neener, neener. We’re the capital. Ha, ha, ha-ha, ha.” Definitely not the best approach for a country dealing with extremely strong and prevalent secessionist groups.
So, instead of spreading out the flow of air traffic for intercontinental flights like we do in the US, they decided to force everything to bounce through Madrid when the destination is outside Europe. This isn’t to say that if you’re flying on British Airways or Air France to or from the US, that you have to go through Madrid to get to Barcelona, but if you’re flying on Iberia, you damned well better believe that you’re going to touch down at Barajas before getting to continue on. So naturally, this construction is going to be self-fulfilling in that there will indeed be much more air traffic at Barajas than say, Sevilla, Granada, or Barcelona because of the mandate to force more traffic to go through there. Such is the thinking in Madrid. And such is the reason that an ETA terrorist blew up a massive chunk of this new terminal in December of 2006. These things don’t make people happy.
Looking past the political ramifications of this terminal, there is the fact that it sucks. The design is not something I care for on an artistic level, but that’s a completely subjective thing. The biggest problem is that it’s pointless and doesn’t work. For instance:
What the hell are those big exhaust pipe looking things on the floor? Will they reheat my tea that grew cold from the lengthy ride on the Metro to the airport?
Why are the trash cans only 30 cm deep (a foot for metric-so-scary-land)?
Why is it that when people walk through a door that is clearly marked for those arriving to pass through that an alarm goes off at irregular intervals?
Why can people not figure out how to open the bathroom door to leave?
Why is it that when there is the least bit unfriendly weather (heavy rain in this instance) that they have to only run one of their two runways? SFO runs every damned runway even when there’s fog.
And most importantly, how is it in a building that isn’t even two years old, the ceiling leaks like a sieve when is rains?
It’s for these and a number of other reasons that I vote this 21st century construct a massive failure, despite the fact it won the Stirling Prize; a prize that obviously weights federal masturbation higher than passenger usability. If it doesn’t I’m at a loss for why this catastrophe won an award other than the fact it built wavy ceilings to scale never before imagined possible. It’s crazy that on so many level, it’s actually less usable than LAX despite all the money that went in to this gigantic potato chip.
Barajas Airport in Madrid is Messy Design