Why is Edinburgh Airport so un-Scottish?

We are just back from a trip to Iceland, don’t travel abroad much so was quite wide eyed with the relatively new experience. As the plane approached Iceland we could see hot springs spouting up from the volcanic landscape. The plane comes into land. We are in Iceland – the airport greets us with massive floor to ceiling pictures showing Iceland and it’s people. The iconic jumpers, the horses, the fishing, the landscape, it’s all here. Everything about the airport design feels Icelandic. There’s no mistaking where we are. They have embraced their selling points – it’s a brand and I like it.

After a lovely holiday it’s time to return (wearing my new Icelandic jumper of course). From the plane we see the familiar sight of Edinburgh as the plane horseshoes around the Forth. We land. I’m conscious that the Icelandic people on the flight might be as excited as we were going to their country. What will their experience be? No big iconic images here, there’s a series of Bank of Scotland photos of Edinburgh, non challenging, very standard could have just been bought from one those online photo libraries, definitely no artistry, no style. There’s the standard photo of the castle taken from the regular position. Absolutely nothing here even hints of the heritage of Scotland. No kilts or tartan. It barely whispers that this is Scotland. Why is this? I can’t help feeling that our government – the people who hold the purse strings are embarrassed about our history and the fact that such a high percentage of people visiting Scotland are doing so to trace their ancestry. If we were Iceland we’d be using these selling points – blowing them up, shouting about them. Why is this?

Edinburgh Airport - Nothing Scottish here!

Edinburgh Airport – Nothing Scottish here!

Keflavik Airport - Iceland

Keflavik Airport – Iceland

Keflavik Airport - Iceland

Keflavik Airport – Iceland

Keflavik Airport - Iceland

Keflavik Airport – Iceland

About Amanda Moffet

I run www.scotclans.com with Rodger Moffet. Live in Edinburgh and love travelling around Scotland gathering stories.

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3 thoughts on “Why is Edinburgh Airport so un-Scottish?

  1. David Lloyd Mitchell

    Compare this experience with walking out of Waverely stationin Edinburgh. As you walk up the ramp you catch your first proper sight of the castle, the Scott Monument and the galleries on the mound. you can hear the sound of pipers playing next to Waverley market, you are most definitely in Scotland!

    Most of the iconic structures in central Edinburgh with the obvious exception of the castle were built in the 19th century, Scott Monument, Mound, Princes St Gardens and Waterloo Place etc. This was in the middle of the Scottish enlightenment when Scotland was the envy of the world and pioneering economics, mathematics, philosophy and the arts. This enthusiasm and drive created a narrative that is reflected in the architecture of the city. A sense of immense civic pride that can only be matched by great cities like Paris.

    I think the airport issue is a wider one, most UK airports have a blandness of design and an economy of decoration.

  2. Steven Rhodes

    It’s an airport. Doomed to be in a flat place, distant from the city centre and lacking any character whatsoever. Schiphol isn’t Dutch, JFK bears nothing of Manhattan and Dublin is not a Dubliner. The only airport I can think of with any regional or national character is Barcelona. But only because it is a temple of design and Barcelona is a city of design. The famous chair is not Catalan although, to me, the cantilevered facade is distinctly Iberian.

    A mission to make Edinburgh airport ‘more Scots’ would, I fear, only descend into a kitsch salmagundy of tartan and shortbread. If you want to start from scratch with a new one re-built on Scottish lines, however, the cautionary tale of the Scottish Parliament looms.


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