One of my favourite online distractions, ArchDaily, yesterday posted a photo spread on Gibraltar's glorious new airport.

This got me thinking about the two-decade debate over a second Sydney airport, which everyone except the owners of the existing airport seems to agree is necessary. Problem is, no politician is prepared to spend the political capital to put it where expert opinion says it should go, Badgerys Creek in western Sydney.

If a miracle should occur and we do get a go-ahead on Badgerys Creek, how about a little architectural symbolism in the design of the facility?

Several foreign airports I can think of do this (Beijing's dragon-like main terminal is pictured), and it would make a nice change. Australian airports tend to be reasonably functional but architecturally unadventurous; Canberra's new facility is a case in point (in fact, Canberra's entire decade-long building boom, while greatly improving the functionality of the city, has to my mind produced little of lasting architectural merit, though that's another story).

Crikey's aviation reporter Ben Sandilands often argues that the second Sydney airport is necessary for Australia's 'world city' to cope with the demands of the Asian Century, so perhaps the design of the airport could gesture towards Australia's embrace of Asia (this would be particularly appropriate if the airport becomes a hub for Asian carriers, less so if it serves mainly domestic traffic).

Alternatively, what if the building spoke to Australia's embrace of the world through post-war immigration and multiculturalism? An airport in western Sydney is an obvious venue for such symbolism.

Photo by Flickr user jiazi.