Tag Archives: non-places

Waiting at the Airport

I had been waiting for some time. My plane had a delay due to the foul weather. The sun burned through the panes in the Barcelona airport and the terminal was getting empty. My departure gate was at the end of one of the terminal’s wings. The size of the building was a big contrast with the small space occupied only by a few chairs beside the gate. There was no room for much people to sit despite the enormity of the building, though the chairs displayed in such a small space conveyed homely feelings somehow.

Source: Commons (Public domain)

Source: Commons (Public domain)

Four young girls came towards me and took a seat in front of me. Had I stretched my legs, I would have hit theirs. They were equally dressed and I realised they were my flight’s staff. I didn’t even bother reading my book since they were talking a bit too loud. One of them complained about the destination. She said she had been there so many times. Where was the captain? He should have already been there. How much more time must we wait? O, I had so many problems to keep my luggage shut! Two of them were pretty gorgeous, and their conversation fun. It felt a bit odd since I was listening to a private conversation. Everyone besides me was doing so though.

A voice through the loudspeaker summoned us to queue. It was about time! A man tried to cut the line but another one rudely told him to go back to his place. Five minutes later the same voice apologised because The plane couldn’t fly yet. What a mess! Everybody went back to the seats, though it seemed that the man who had yelled wasn’t comfortable in the tiny sitting area, so he decided to wander around.

The girls said that all was OK. It was just another delay, and they’d better go downstairs to get ready.

Half an hour later the plane took off. Meanwhile, the sun still burned Barcelona.

While I am remembering last month’s experience, I cannot stop thinking about Marc Augé’s theories about the non-places¹, those places in which we just wait. We are just passing by, we aren’t supposed to have a great experience nor enjoy them. And I am thinking about how the architecture may answer this question while still observing those bored girls and annoyed men.

It is not an easy question, though I expect to find my own answer someday.

¹ Augé, Marc (1995); Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity