Featured Image Source: Macvivo, Under Creative Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Harare_International_Airport.jpg
Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport is the main airport of Harare and the largest in Zimbabwe. The airport terminal is one of the most interesting buildings in Harare and shows one of the last projects that the colonial government undertook before giving Zimbabwe its independence in 1980. The airport was finished in 1957 and was opened on the 5th of February of the same year. The airport has had three names, originally named Salisbury airport, renamed Harare International airport after independence and re-renamed Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport after the former president Robert Mugabe.
The planning for the airport started in 1951 and the runway was finished in September of that year but the construction of the terminal took an extra 6 years. The airport has been the main and only hub of Air Zimbabwe and Air Zimbabwe has flights 5 destinations. The airport has destinations to most important African cities and and Emirates is the only airline that flies a route outside of Africa. There are a total of 15 destinations. In 2009 the airport transported a total of 612,208 passengers. The airport sits about 10 kilometres from the city centre.
The airport is far from a normal terminal building. It is striking and interesting from almost every corner. The most eye-catching feature of the building is the air traffic control tower. The slightly concave tapering cylinder, which ends in a steel framework cone, gives air traffic controllers unobstructed views of all aircraft using the airport. The cylinder is covered in triangle shaped windows, these windows are accentuated with a grey zig-zag shapes. Four of which cover the cylinder in geometric harmony. The top of the tower also has the airport in bold letters.
If we go down to the terminal building there are four entrances to it. On the West side of the tower, there is one entrance and on the East side, there are a further 3 entrances. The West entrance is the Arrivals area and the East side entrances are Departures. The entrances are one of the interesting architectural features of the airport. Around each entrance, there are two large columns with a large flat roof spanning between them. Not only does this make it very clear where the entrances of the airport they also provide shade when it is sunny and a dry place when it is raining.
The terminal building has two floors and windows all around the building. The airport has 3 jetways where passengers do not have to go outside to board the plane.
Sources: Wikipedia (Salisbury Airport), Wikipedia (Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport), Civil Aviation in Colonial Zimbabwe, 1912-1980, Wikipedia (List of the busiest airports in Africa), CAAZ, Wikipedia (History of Zimbabwe)