First Look At Richard Wilson’s ‘Slipstream’ At Heathrow

What you’re looking at here is a CGI rendering of Slipstream, a massive public sculpture by Britain’s Richard Wilson that will be installed in London Heathrow Airport’s new Terminal 2.

The aluminum work was fabricated in collaboration with Commercial Systems International and its form is intended to conjure “an imagined flight path of a Zivko Edge 540 stunt plane.” Like many of Wilson’s sculptures, Slipstream plays with the viewer’s perception and introduces an element of perceptual wrongness or danger into the environment. “I’ve always been concerned with the ways you can change architectural space–whether it be a room or a whole building–to alter your perception, to knock your view of the world off-kilter,” he once wrote. (Personally, I’d have been delighted to see an iteration of his classic 20:50 for Heathrow, but filling an airport terminal with several feet of engine oil is probably prohibitive for logistical reasons).

Terminal 2 itself has been designed by Madrid-based Luis Vidal + Architects; a rendering of the structure’s exterior is below. There’ll be a media launch for Slipstream on April 23, and the terminal itself will be open for business on June 4.

Heathrow, computer generated image of the new Terminal 2 building at night.

Heathrow Hells: An Incomplete Timeline

No airport does massive delays and meltdowns quite like London’s Heathrow, the busiest international airport in the world. Usually weather are flight crew strikes or to blame for thousands being stranded at the airport, but not today. Volcanic debris from an eruption under a glacier in Iceland has drifted over to the UK, creating a massive cloud of volcanic ash over the country. No flights, save for emergencies, will be permitted in or out of the country until 6 p.m. today because plane engines could be affected by the tiny particles of rock, glass, and sand in the ash cloud. It’s a veritable travel hell, but it’s also sort of just your average day at Heathrow, an airport seemingly always making news for stranding passengers and baggage alike.

So, in honor of the volcanic cloud plaguing Heathrow today, we’re reflecting back on other recent Heathrow travel hells, with this incomplete timeline.

August 14, 2005 — 70,000 Stranded in Heathrow Strike Airport in Chaos As BA Halts Flights

December 26, 2007 – Fog-bound travelers stranded at Heathrow for two days

February 20, 2008 — Thousands Stranded at Heathrow Airport After Computer System Crashes

March 29, 2008 — 15,000 bags stranded at Heathrow

January 11, 2010 — Thousands stranded as ‘knock-off’ effect hits Heathrow and Gatwick

March 20, 2010 – BA Launches 3-Day Strike, Thousands Stranded