hile earlier literatures on airports portrayed an international terminal as an immaculate ordered world inhabited by anonymous docile passengers, gradually a more dynamic and even messy image of the airport came into view. Mobilities scholars have discussed how airport design is shaped by considerations related to logistics, security and commercial interests and pointed to the tensions between ... [Show full abstract] those. Yet what remains a blind spot in the discussion of the rationales behind airport design is the figure of the mobile subject who is supposed to move from A to B without delay, not cause any disturbance and, preferably, shop. The image of an anonymous, docile passenger is gradually being substituted by a more complicated portrait through the discussion of passengers’ experiences but it remains unclear what kind of a mobile subject is imagined as the user of the airport and how that image influences airport design.
How are passengers envisioned? How do different stakeholders see passengers’ needs? The analysis based on interviews with airport design professionals suggests that just as the design of different spaces within the airport is a contested subject, so is the vision of passengers’ needs, desires and capabilities. When stakeholders, such as architects, designers and managers representing different departments, debate design decisions, they mobilize particular ideas about passengers’ behaviour to defend their views. The transformations of the imagined mobile subject in such discussions thus reflect the transformation of the space itself, shaped by a diversity of sometimes conflicting interests.