Images emerged last week of two separate, yet vaguely familiar, airport proposals in China
Starfish-shaped scheme number one had, it transpires, been drawn up at the start of 2013 by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners for the still undecided contest to design the world’s largest airport in Beijing.
Meanwhile, starfish-shaped airport number two was devised by Atkins and China South West Architectural Design and Research Institute (CSWADI) and was unveiled as the recent winner in the Qingdao airport contest.
A comment from Atkins
‘The team in Atkins was not aware of this submission in Beijing - usually only the winning schedule would be publicised. Within Atkins scope of work, we provide masterplanning, airfield design, transportation planning, landscape design, and water consultancy, with CSWADI providing the architecture design. However, as we have been through the design process with them, we do know how the final shape of the terminal came about:
‘The architects of CSWADI were inspired by the rich Chinese history and local culture. The final design of the phase one and phase two terminals combined together will form a Chinese character 齐 (pronounced “Qi’) as the province Shandong where the airport is located is called “Qi Lu territory”. The attached Qingdao image only shows the first phase of the airport, which is the top part of the Chinese character齐. The second phase of this project will be the two “legs” as in the bottom part of the character. Secondly, Qingdao is a seaside city and the phase one terminal shape reflects the look of a starfish. The aspiration of the architecture design was from both these aspects.
‘In airport terminal design, you can only have certain amount of piers, so the H shape and U shape are very common. There were quite few H shape terminals submitted in Qingdao airport competition and they all looked similar. However, if we look at the details and internal plan, they are very different. For example, the consortium’s design is not a 72 degree angle between piers - it is a 60 degree angle, which has been an engineering challenge and involved a lot of detail consideration.’