Beijing Daxing International Airport by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) opens in China
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Beijing Daxing International Airport by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) opens in China

Incorporating traditional Chinese architecture in its fluid design, the starfish-shaped airport by ZHA is expected to be the world’s largest, and will be the region’s major transport hub.

by Jincy Iype Sep 27, 2019

The new Beijing Daxing International Airport, in the Daxing district of Beijing, opened officially on September 25, 2019, and is said to be the world’s biggest, single-building terminal. Envisioned and developed to relieve congestion at the Chinese capital’s existing airport, Beijing Daxing will act as the main transport hub for the region. The airport has  also been termed ‘the starfish’ due to its striking resemblance with the sea animal, when viewed from above. The airport has been designed by the eponymous architectural giant, Zaha Hadid Architects, famous for its liberating and parametric architectural language.

The 700,000m² passenger terminal contains an 80,000m² ground transportation centre that offers direct connections to Beijing, the national high-speed rail network, and local train services as well. Initially serving 45 million passengers annually, the Beijing Daxing airport is now expected to accommodate 72 million travellers by 2025, and is also planned for further expansion to increase its capacity to accommodate 100 million passengers and four million tonnes of cargo per year.

  • The Beijing Daxing International Airport designed by Zaha Hadid Architects | Beijing Daxing International Airport | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    The Beijing Daxing International Airport, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects Image Credit: Hufton+Crow
  • The Beijing Daxing International Airport designed by Zaha Hadid Architects | Beijing Daxing International Airport | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    The Beijing Daxing International Airport, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects Image Credit: Hufton+Crow
  • Inside the Beijing Daxing airport | Beijing Daxing International Airport | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    Inside the Beijing Daxing airport Image Credit: Hufton+Crow
  • Inside the Beijing Daxing airport | Beijing Daxing International Airport | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    Inside the Beijing Daxing airport Image Credit: Hufton+Crow

The terminal design imbibes and follows fundamental and traditional Chinese architecture, manifested in the organised and interconnected areas planned around a central courtyard. This central courtyard is a multi-layered meeting space at the heart of the terminal, as passengers from various spaces - departure, arrival or transfer zones - venture naturally towards it, driven by the seamlessly expert design. 

Along with six fluid forms inside the terminal’s vaulted roof that sit firmly on the ground to support the structure, a designed system of linear skylights allows natural light to penetrate the terminal's interiors. Structural spans of up to 100 m create spacious, bright and liberal public spaces within the terminal building, and provide flexibility for any future reconfigurations.

  • A designed system of linear skylights allows natural light to enter the spacious interiors of the airport | Beijing Daxing International Airport | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    A designed system of linear skylights allows natural light to enter the spacious interiors of the airport Image Credit: Hufton+Crow
  • Natural daylight entering the terminal through a network of linear skylights | Beijing Daxing International Airport | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    Natural daylight entering the terminal through a network of linear skylights Image Credit: Hufton+Crow
  • One of the six fluid structural forms supporting the vaulted roof lets natural night in | Beijing Daxing International Airport | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    One of the six fluid structural forms supporting the vaulted roof lets natural night in Image Credit: Hufton+Crow
  • Flowing structural forms supporting the vaulted roof of the Beijing Daxing International Airport | Beijing Daxing International Airport | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    Flowing structural forms supporting the vaulted roof of the Beijing Daxing International Airport Image Credit: Hufton+Crow

The radial and compact terminal design permits a maximum number of aircraft to be parked directly at the terminal, with minimum distances from the building’s centre. This, therefore, offers remarkable convenience to passengers and ease in operations. Radiating from the terminal’s main central court - where all passenger services and amenities are located - are five aircraft piers that provide passengers the comfort of walking shorter distances within the airport.

Beijing Daxing international airport - Interiors | Beijing Daxing International Airport | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
Beijing Daxing International Airport - Interiors Image Credit: Hufton+Crow
Beijing Daxing international airport - Interiors | Beijing Daxing International Airport | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
Beijing Daxing International Airport - Interiors Image Credit: Hufton+Crow

The distinctly contemporary Beijing Daxing International Airport by Zaha Hadid Architects sets new benchmarks for air transport services. The terminal’s fluid architectural language, and its radial and spatial design, is the outcome of admirable collaborations between committed teams of professionals in China and around the world, resulting in a distinct, contemporary building. Beijing Daxing sets a new standard in air transport services, serving the region’s growing population within a compact and efficient passenger terminal that is adaptable for future growth.

  • Beijing Daxing International Airport - Roof Plan | Beijing Daxing International Airport | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    Beijing Daxing International Airport - Roof Plan Image Credit: Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects
  • Beijing Daxing International Airport - Layout Plan | Beijing Daxing International Airport | Zaha Hadid Architects | STIRworld
    Beijing Daxing International Airport - Layout Plan Image Credit: Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

Project Details

Name of the project: Beijing Daxing International Airport
Location: Daxing district, Beijing, China
Area: 700,000 sqm
Year of completion: 2019
Client: Beijing New Airport Construction Headquarters
Architects/Joint design team: Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) and ADP Ingeniérie (ADPI)
Design (ZHA): Zaha Hadid, Patrik Schumacher
Project architect (ZHA): Lydia Kim
Project team (ZHA): Uli Blum, Antonio Monserrat, Alberto Moletto, Sophie Davison, Carolina Lopez-Blanco, Shaun Farrell, Junyi Wang, Ermis Chalvatzis, Rafael Contreras, Michael Grau, Fernando Poucell, Gerry Cruz, Filipa Gomez, Kyla Farrell, Natassa Lianou, Teoman Ayas, Peter Logan, Yun Zhang, Karoly Markos, Irene Guerra
Beijing Team (ZHA): Satoshi Ohashi, Rita Lee, Yang Jingwen, Lillie Liu, Juan Liu
Fire performance design: ARUP
Lighting: Gala Lighting Design Studio

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About Author

Jincy Iype

Jincy Iype

Iype is a trained architect, who often indulges in writing and amateur photography. She was a cinephile and a melophile even before she knew what those words meant. She is inclined towards architecture journalism, and can usually be found curled up reading a book, or cooking for therapeutic relief.

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