Stansted Airport (with Norman Foster)

Stansted Airport, Stansted Mountfitchet, England


"For Sir Norman Foster's new airport terminal at Stansted, opened in March by Queen Elizabeth II – a piece of architecture that Clarke describes as “one of the great moments of modernism, sublimely beautiful” – Clarke created eight large panels of glass that flank the restaurant area in the centre of the terminal building, along with a slender tower of stained glass that points like a finger to the sky. One wall of stained glass is in cool blue and white; the wall opposite to that is in lush reds, oranges, blues, and greens. Using sophisticated photo-silkscreen techniques, Clarke transcribed brush strokes into the stained glass with enamel to give the glass 'the calligraphic feel of brush strokes, without undermining the natural quality of the glass."

In 1988, Brian Clarke and Norman Foster proposed a major stained glass artwork for the new terminal building of Stansted Airport, designed by Foster + Partners, which would have seen the east and west walls of the High-tech building clad in two sequences of mouth-blown, traditionally-leaded stained glass. For complex technical and security reasons, the original scheme, which Clarke considered to be his magnum opus, couldn't be executed. In 1991, the British Airports Authority commissioned this second, smaller stained glass project from Clarke, for which the artist designed two friezes and a 6-metre high tower of stained glass (totalling 1464 sq ft) for a circulation area in the centre of the terminal which, in their composition, echoed elements of Foster's structure; by 1994 the tower had been removed to 'allow greater flow of traffic through the space', and later the friezes were likewise removed. The stained glass tower was described by Foster in 2020 as "a focal point in Stansted, a column like the classical obelisk in a city - a visual reference point from a distance".