aerotropolis, Connected Cities, economic development, Heathrow, London

Stratford bustles with commerce in this photo (©AECOM by David Lloyd). The 2012 Olympics infused this area with new infrastructure, commercial development, and energy. But something else underpins this place’s success, as it does the whole city’s and that of any other 21st-century metropolis. Stratford is 20 miles from Heathrow International Airport.

As London considers the future of Heathrow, Chris Choa considers the consequences for a prosperous city if it fails to fully capitalize on the global transportation network of the century. Once it was water that linked a city to the world and its markets, later rail and roads. Urban prosperities rose and fell according to where the economic pipelines of the times ran. In an era when flight paths chart global commerce, cities have the choice of where to position their airports physically and how to position them with regard to the urban future. Choa points out that “Hong Kong, Cairo, Hyderabad, Brisbane and Madrid are all using airport city strategies to catapult themselves into the upper global tiers.”

In the age of the “aerotropolis,” Choa urges London to think about its future airport not in isolation but in the context of the city’s growth and prosperity. Read his full comments for City A.M. here. Chris Choa ( is a principal in AECOM’s global Masterplanning + Urban Design practice and a contributor to this blog.

Jake Herson ( is managing editor of the Connected Cities blog.



Originally published Jul 22, 2013

Author: Jacob Herson