WARNING: Architectural nerdery ahead. Proceed with caution.
Although more cluttered with baggage carts and kiosks than Sir Norman Foster perhaps envisioned, the Stansted airport terminal is a great building. The basic design concept is a grid of tree like structural squares that house the mechanical equipment at their base. By keeping all the systems at the floor level (or below), it allows for the roof to be open and light. The skylight design at each grid offers diffuse natural light, so there is very little need for artificial lighting. Not just is it interesting to look at, it reduces power consumption in two ways: it eliminates the energy consumed by light fixtures as well as reduces the heating load caused by those fixtures.
Here’s my favorite part. The experience of Stansted is very straightforward. The design and organization of the terminal creates a clearly defined progression from entry, to ticketing, to security, to your designated gate and off you go. No guessing where to go and no need for signage typical of most airports; just a soothing, pleasant airport experience.
However, if you’re thinking you can just walk around taking pictures without being interrogated by security, well then you would be wrong. That blur on the left was the security officer who all but patted me down to confirm that I was not going to use my photos for evil.