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Zaha Hadid’s giant £8.8bn Daxing airport scheme opens in Beijing

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Said to be the world’s largest single-building airport terminal, the 700,000m² Beijing Daxing will accommodate 72 million travellers a year by 2025

Less than five years after construction began, the £8.8 billion Beijing Daxing International airport was officially opened last week.

The major transport hub is located 46km south of the city centre and was developed to reduce congestion at Beijing’s existing airport. 

Initially serving 45 million passengers a year, the 700,000m² passenger terminal will accommodate up to 72 million travellers by 2025. That number is planned to increase to 100 million and 4 million tonnes of cargo annually following further expansion.

32 zha beijing daxing int airport ®hufton+crow

A 80,000m² ground transportation centre offers direct connections to Beijing, the national high-speed rail network and local train service. It is hoped the transport links will trigger economic development in Tianjin and Hebei provinces.

Despite failing to make the shortlist in the original contest for the enormous job,Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) was drafted back to work on the scheme in October 2014, just one month after French firm ADP Ingénierie (ADPI) landed the multi-billion pound contract.

Project backer Beijing New Airport Headquarters (BNAH) brought in Hadid to work alongside ADPI to ‘optimise’ concept designs for the airport’s Terminal 1 building. Pascall + Watson, Buro Happold, Mott Macdonald and EC Harris were also appointed to the ‘joint design team’, which passed the project over to a Local Design Institute to complete.

23 zha beijing daxing int airport ®hufton+crow

ZHA and Pascall + Watson were among six teams originally longlisted for the 700,000m² scheme in September 2011. The duo dropped out of the race when ADPI, Foster + Partners and Chinese team CACC/Beijing Institute of Architectural Design were named as the finalists one year later. The other teams defeated at this stage were RSHP with Arup, and HOK with Dutch airport specialist Naco.

ZHA’s completed scheme conceptually consists of a compact radial design of six sculptural forms within the terminal’s vaulted roof. The spans slope down to hit the ground, supporting the structure while bringing natural light into the plan. The 100m-long structural spans allow flexibility for any future reconfiguration.

Natural light is brought into the building through a network of linear skylights, which also act as a method of wayfinding to guide passengers to and from their departure gates. All passenger amenities are located in a court at the centre of the terminal.

28 zha beijing daxing int airport ®hufton+crow

Five aircraft ‘piers’ radiate directly from the central court which allows for aircrafts to be parked directly at the terminal, shortening walking times from the centre of the building to an average of 8 minutes and reducing the need for shuttle trains. A total of 79 gates with airbridges connect directly to the airport’s terminal.

In an attempt to offset the huge carbon emissions of a working airport, PVs have been installed throughout to provide a minimum capacity of 10MW. Centralised heating with waste heat recovery is supported by a composite ground-source heat pump system.

Rainwater collection and a water management system employing natural storage, permeation and natural purification of 2,800,000m³ of water in new wetlands, lakes and streams has been designed to prevent flooding and ‘heat island’ effect on local microclimates.

Project data

Completion date September 2019
Gross internal area 700,000m² (passenger terminal), 80,000m² (ground transportation centre)
Construction cost £8.8 billion
Client Beijing New Airport Construction Headquarters
Architects Zaha Hadid Architects, ADP Ingeniérie
Local design institutes Beijing Institute of Architecture & Design, China Airport Construction Company
Landscape design Beijing Institute of Architectural Design (Group) (Landscape Design Division)
Security system and baggage systems design China IPPR International Engineering
Information and weak power systems design China Electronics Engineering Design Institute + Civil Aviation Electronic Technology
High speed rail design The Third Rail Survey and Design Institute Group Corporation
Subway design Beijing City Construction Design Research General Institute
Viaduct/bridge design Beijing General Munincipal Engineering Design & Research Institute
Fire performance design ARUP
Public art Central Academy of Fine Arts
Green technology Beijing TsingHua TongHeng Urban Planning and Design Institute
BIM design DTree
Facade consultants XinShan Curtainwall, Beijing Insitute of Architectural Design (Group) Complex Structure Division
Metro system design Lea+Elliott
Lighting Gala Lighting Design Studio
Identification/signage system East Sign Design & Engineering

Beijingdaxing plan level l1

Plan level L1

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