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Little Red: Sculptural showstopper wows passengers at Heathrow Terminal 2

by Moderator August 2014

Slipstream by Richard Wilson © David Levene.jpg

We’re delighted to announce that Virgin Atlantic Little Red will be moving into Heathrow’s newly-opened Terminal 2 on 10 September 2014 – a cutting edge destination in its own right designed by acclaimed Spanish architecture practice LVA.

The new terminal will become one of the UK’s primary gateways – both arriving and departing – and will welcome over twice the population of London annually. Conceived as an extension of the city itself, it’s expected that passengers will view their time at the terminal as an integral part of their stay. With a public piazza and more than 20,000 square metres of leisure space across two floors, travellers can enjoy a thoughtful balance of of amenities, services, retail and catering in a welcoming atmosphere.

Heathrow Airport, Terminal 2A (main terminal building), airside, departure lounge, 05 December 2013 © LHR Airports Limited.jpg

Heathrow Terminal 2, airside, departure lounge © LHR Airports Ltd

Smooth passage

Opened by the Queen in 1995, the previous Terminal 2 was Heathrow’s first terminal, originally known as the “Europa Building”. It was designed to handle 1.2 million passengers per year, but by the time it closed in 2009 that figure had shot up to 8 million.

Now able to deal with 20 million people annually, the new Terminal 2 – also know as The Queen’s Terminal – opened to the public in June, as part of an £11 billion transformation to improve the passenger experience at Heathrow. Check-in will be roomy enough to accommodate 3,000 passengers per hour, with 56 traditional check-in desks, 60 fast bag drops and 66 self-service kiosks. Add to that approximately 600 security offers, 30 service ambassadors and 24 security lanes, and it’s safe to say the entire passenger journey will be a seamless one – especially after the terminal's 182 trials involving some 14,000 people before opening.

Heathrow, the new Terminal 2A, departures lounge, 20 November 2013 © LHR Airports Limited (2).jpg

Heathrow's new Terminal 2 © LHR Airports Ltd


Don't forget to cast your eyes skywards however, because above the hubbub of Terminal 2’s entrance hangs a remarkable and ambitious work of art by renowned British sculptor Richard Wilson, who has long drawn inspiration from the interconnected worlds of construction and engineering. Running along the length of the Covered Court, Slipstream – a twisting 78-metre aluminium form suspended 18 metres above the ground – was commissioned by Heathrow to welcome passengers to the UK’s largest airport, and takes its cue from the imagined flight path of a small Edge 540 stunt plane.

Slipstream by Richard Wilson at Heathrow's new Terminal 2 The Queen's Terminal. Photograher David Levene 7.jpgSlipstream by Richard Wilson at Heathrow's new Terminal 2 © David Levene

A response to the artistic challenge of capturing movement, the sculpture embodies velocity, acceleration and deceleration in its twisty, flowing form and is described by Wilson as a “metaphor for travel”, which “moves through space coming from a past to a current and with different experiences at either end”.

Views of Slipstream are not only enjoyed from ground level, as the terminal’s architecture features many walkways, escalators and bridges. “In a way, we are also airbone as we travel through the space, and moving causes the sculpture to unfurl alongside us as we participate,” says Wilson. “We too, at the airport, flow through time leaving a special drawing of our every moving event from departure to arrival. Flight, architecture and sculpture are about exploring an undefined space.”

Slipstream by Richard Wilson at Heathrow's new Terminal 2 The Queen's Terminal. Photograher David Levene 6.jpg

Slipstream by Richard Wilson © David Levene
The space itself is part of Heathrow’s ongoing transformation, and the £2.5 billion development by luis vidal + architects has taken five years to complete. Flooded with natural light, the building is anchored by an undulating steel framed roof, and is the world’s first airport terminal to be awarded BREEAM rating for its sustainable building design. Lead architect Luis Vidal has worked on more than a dozen airport projects, and is internationally recognised for airport design which applies a humanised architecture dedicated to the reduction of stress and the improvement of the visitor experience.

Slipstream by Richard Wilson at Heathrow's new Terminal 2 The Queen's Terminal. Photograher David Levene.jpg

Richard Wilson's Slipstream in detail © David Levene
Want to experience Slipstream and Terminal 2 for yourself? Virgin Atlantic Little Red is our UK domestic service, offering great value, full service multiple daily flights between London and Manchester, London and Aberdeen and London and Edinburgh. Little Red flights can be booked now, bringing you closer to all our destinations.

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About the author: Maxine

Maxine Sheppard

Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.