Page last updated at 04:45 GMT, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 05:45 UK

Airport gets writer-in-residence


Alain de Botton on the romance of airports

Philosopher Alain de Botton is to be the first ever writer-in-residence at a UK airport.

De Botton is spending a week in Heathrow's Terminal Five, where he will have access to all areas, and is due to write a book about the experience.

He says airports encapsulate the modern world, featuring "interconnection, fast travel, the destruction of nature... dreams of consumerism and travel".

The airport will give away 10,000 copies of his book once it is written.

The writer is being given unprecedented access to all areas of Terminal Five, as well as full creative control of the finished book.

"So if the now infamous T5 baggage system breaks down again, expect tales of passenger misery and ennui," says BBC reporter Iain Mackenzie.

Do Botton regards airports as fascinating environments.

He said: "They're full of all the things that we're told the modern world's about - interconnection, fast travel, the destruction of nature, destruction of the environment, the dreams of consumerism and travel.

"It's all here at an airport and so being able to be a writer in residence here, is just a chance to see in action all these things that we normally just hear about as abstractions."

The writer's previous books include The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, The Architecture of Happiness and Status Anxiety.

Your comments

Having spent many hours at various airports around Europe, it's really interesting to watch people come and go. The different cultural norms that people take with them when they arrive at any airport in any country.
Chris, Dorset

His must be barking if he thinks airports are fascinating, romantic, exciting and theatrical. Airports, that is ALL airport are the worst places on earth to spend any time. That includes Bangkok, Singapore, Amsterdam etc. I've been to them all. From walking through the door, check in, security. The nonsense he spouted on about that once through security you can relax at a bar. That is in overpriced, poor service and rubbish food area he is on about. Then after all that, there's the flight. Unless in business or above another nightmare.
Howard Sutcliffe, Estepona, Spain

Forget Piccadilly Circus being the place to stand and watch the world go by. Heathrow is the modern version. People from across the world pass here, rich, poor, happy, distressed, tired, awake.
Peter Bond, Ormskirk

I work at JFK airport, and have always found airports to be amazing, fascinating places. Huge metal objects weighing many tons actually get off the ground. And the convergence of so many lives and emotion at one place. At the same time there are people overjoyed at a reunion (or maybe even the first possible meeting) with loved ones, while there may be a sad tear filled farewell just steps away.
Marc, New York, USA

Inspiration? Absolutely, airports are fascinating places if you've an eye for watching how people behave in this somewhat culture-less container, where identity and security is everything. The airport serves as a stockade and we're forced to be patient with each other and with how the world works in this way. So many possibilities with this book!
Erin Buttner, County Clare, Ireland

Heathrow always inspires me. Coming through the customs doors at T3, I feel a part of the world community as I see people from all over the world greet each other, yet because it's T3, it's cosy. The enormity of T5 is impressive, and the Nokia moving art can keep me engaged long enough that I barely have time for coffee, but I prefer T3.
Anne Stone, Stow, MA, USA

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