Schiphol airport: from non-place to aerotropolis

A glass of good wine, excellent sushi, time to chat with a view of the runways.

Bubbles, at Schiphol airport: three hours before their flight leaves for Beijing, so they have plenty of time to enjoy life. Work comes later.

Over the years, Michele has learnt to love these moments. To deliberately find time, during days that are often fast paced. What he would never have imagined doing was learning to enjoy them in an airport, let alone one like this with its uninterrupted flow of people, an almost infinite list of potential destinations, a global hub for moving goods and people.

But there is more to Schiphol than this. After lunch, they could go for a walk in the enormous airport park, among secular trees, the futuristic digital tweets and butterfly holograms. Or hop over to Holland Boulevard and decide whether to take advantage of a book (kindly on loan from the first airport library in the world) or try his luck at the Holland Casino.

Just ten years ago, Michele would never have wanted to stop here for any length of time. Then, entering the airport was like time had stopped and all you did was wait, it was the age of The Terminal, when a month at JFK seemed like a nightmare. Whereas today is the age of the airport-cum-city that welcomes life, or the “aerotropolis”.

He raises his eyes: businessmen with their iPads sipping vegetable juices at La Place, a moustachioed Arab headed towards the Dutch Kitchen Bar, two girls, apparently friends, in one of the shopping streets, about to stop for a macaroon at Cafè Chocolat. The Harvest Market, where three kids are playing tag, looks like a real Dutch Market, colourful and brightly lit.

He thinks back – he would never have imagined all this then. He remembers the echo of the announcements over the PA system, the weight of the air conditioning, the head-splitting perfume in the duty free shop, never-ending waits and shrink-wrapped sandwiches – all relegated to the past.

Then came the future..

Michele has changed and so have his surroundings. A spectacular fusion of luxury, art and technology, at the service of travellers looking to chill out, fulfil their desires and satisfy their taste. This is Schiphol aerotropolis, a city of the third millennium.

The aerotropolis

A term officially coined by John Kasarda, an American university professor, the concept of aerotropolis describes the most modern form of urban development.

According to Kasarda, already today and with a tendency that will increase in the future, cities will develop around communication nodes (airports, ports, railway stations) in the various parts of the world.

In this context, airports have changed their role and characteristics, going from being non-places to real centres for living and working, true drivers for economic development, no longer acting as a simple area for transit and waiting.

Schiphol

Every year, over 50 million passengers transit through Schiphol airport in Amsterdam.

Due to its number of travellers, it is the fourth biggest airport in Europe, but for quality of services Schiphol flies even higher. In 2013, it came third in the Skytrax world ranking, voted directly by passengers, while in 2012 it was judged Best Airport in Europe at the Business Traveller Awards.



Autogrill at Schiphol

Autogrill has been present at Schiphol since 1995 and has helped this Dutch airport to gradually turn into a real aerotropolis, setting up and managing no fewer than 75 sales points.           

The comprehensive range of services has been studied ad hoc for the diverse needs of travellers. The concepts on offer include the Bubbles Seafood & Wine Bar, a refined restaurant that combines sparkling wines and fish specialities, Harvest Market, with a vast assortment of fresh local produce, Dutch Kitchen, a traditional trattoria with typical Dutch recipes, Bread! a new-gen sandwich-bar, Café Chocolat the gourmet pastry shop and Cafe Comunal, a restaurant serving Spanish specialities.

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