Larger than Life: the multidimensional manifestations of Schiphol Airport in image and architecture (1920 – 2006)
In 1919 the Netherlands' largest airport, Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, consisted of a few simple buildings and a grassy field used for take off and landing, with the occasional dodging of cows. Today it presents itself as an ‘airport city’. Schiphol has not just changed physically, but has also seen a shift in the meanings people attach to its current state and future.
For instance, in the beginning the airport was associated with glamour, as flying was mostly the privilege of the rich and/or famous. At the same time, flying was not as safe a mode of transport as it is now, and so pilots were idolised as heroes. This reflected back on the airport as a starting point for adventure and glamour. The idea of glamour faded in the course of the late sixties and seventies, when flying became affordable to the masses. At the same tim aviation came under scrutiny due to (noise) pollution.
The changed mentality towards Schiphol can be traced in the way it has been represented in books, news articles, advertisements, comics, pressphotographs, newsreels, stories, etc. In short, it is found in Schiphol’s imagery. Iris Burgers' PhD project Larger than life: the multidimensional manifestations of Schiphol Airport in image and architecture (1920 – 2006) studies the airport’s visual representation in relation to the actual development of Schiphol. Her research is part of the Urban Nebula research group and is funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) within the Urbanisation and City Culture programme.
Iris Burgers is an architectural historian and her research interests include nineteenth and twentieth century urban planning and architecture, mobility, urban imagery, film and photography.