With major new airports being built in Beijing, Qingdao and elsewhere and dozens of existing gateways adding new state-of-the-art facilities, these are exciting times for China, writes Joe Bates.

Beijing’s new $14 billion international airport is a step closer to reality following the release of the designs for its much anticipated Terminal 1.

ADP Ingénierie (ADPI), the wholly-owned subsidiary of Aéroports de Paris, that won the international competition to design the complex, claims that it was inspired by Chinese architectural traditions.

Located at Daxing, 60 kilometres south of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, the new Beijing International Airport will eventually have seven runways and the capacity to handle over 100mppa making it one of the largest airports in the world.

Upon opening in late 2018, Terminal 1 will boast a 700,000sqm surface area and five-kilometre-long façade, ensuring that it is initially capable of accommodating up to 45mppa.

The first planned expansion phase will raise that capacity to 72 million passengers per annum.

As the competition winner, ADPI has fine-tuned the design supported by Zaha Hadid Consortium as part of a mixed team managed by Beijing New Airport Construction Headquarters (BNAH).

Underpinning ADP Ingénierie’s concept is the decision to stack the international and domestic levels vertically instead of spreading them out horizontally.

This innovation led to the design of a compact terminal serving radial boarding piers. The centralised single-terminal concept is said to ensure that it is efficient and economical to operate as well as offering an enhanced passenger experience courtesy of its many shops and restaurants and intermodal ground transportation facilities.

Given the terminal’s compact design, the distance betweenthe terminal centre and the farthest boarding gate is around 600 metres, less than Asian and European terminals with similar capacity.

According to ADPi, passengers can easily find their way within the open interior layout of the terminal, gravitating naturally to the grand skylight central area where shops and services are located, and then walking straight ahead to their gate.

ADPi says that it was inspired by Chinese architectural traditions and as such has reshaped many symbols in a contemporary style, which it claims will result in a modern design that blends naturally into its surroundings.

The goal, it reveals, was to create an iconic airport “reflecting unprecedented levels of environmental management and sustainability to bolster the airport’s leading low carbon status”.

Other new gateways

Another huge project is the planned construction of a new $10.3 billion airport in Chengdu.

The new Chengdu gateway will reportedly have three runways and be capable of handling 40 million passengers upon its completion in 2025, according to local newspaper reports.

Chengdu’s existing Shuangliu Airport, built in 1938, is the fifth busiest airport in the country handling 37mppa as it serves as a hub for inland China destinations for carriers such as Air China, AirAsia X and Korean Air among others.

Elsewhere, reports in China suggest that the world’s largest off-shore gateway, the $4.3 billion Jinzhou Bay Airport, could open in the first half of 2015.

Located on a 21-square-kilometre man-made island off of the coast of Dalian, in north-east China, the airport is expected to initially be equipped with two parallel runways and a 200,000sqm terminal capable of handling up to 20mppa.

It will join other gateways built offshore, such as Japan’s Nagasaki Airport, New York La Guardia Airport, which is built of steel piles into the seabed offshore, and Japan’s Kansai International Airport in Osaka.

Jinzhou Bay will be joined by a new $5.5 billion airport in Qingdao following its recent approval by the China National Development and Reform Committee (NDRC).

Atkins and the China Southwest Architectural Design and Research Institute (CSWADI) have carried out conceptual planning and design for the new gateway, which is expected to serve as a regional hub.

Qingdao, in Shandong Province, is an important economic centre and seaport along the eastern coastline and an important gateway to Northeast Asia with extensive trading relations with Japan and South Korea.

Chris Birdsong, Atkins’ CEO for Asia-Pacific, says: “Our partnership with CSWADI, one of the leading design institutes in China and the largest in western China, will allow us to unlock opportunities to deliver our multidisciplinary, high-end engineering services in China.”

Upon completion in 2017, Qingdao will be able to process 38mppa in 2025 and 60mppa by 2045.

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The X-factor

The largest airport on the island province of Hainan, Haikou Meilan International Airport, is also set to get a facelift with the addition of two new terminals in the next decade.

A brand-new Terminal 2 is currently being planned and is set for completion in 2020, while a plan for a new third terminal is also under consideration.

ADPi has designed the planned new 290,000sqm Terminal 2, which is the key project of a $136 million investment programme.

Located opposite Terminal 1, ADPi says the 18mppa capacity T2 will be designed to provide a “high level of functional and aeronautical quality”.

According to ADPi, its X-shaped design will feature South Asia’s architectural styles and boast coconut trees in lounge areas and an
inner courtyard.

If built, a third terminal would raise the airport’s annual passenger capacity to 62mppa by 2040, says ADPi.

The world’s largest satellite concourse

Arguably the most high profile project in China at the moment is the planned construction of the world’s largest satellite concourse at Shanghai Pudong International Airport as part of the Shanghai Airport Authority’s (SAA) bid to make it the premier international hub in Asia.

Designed by US architect Corgan, in association with Chinese partner IPPR, the complex is expected to boast 100 boarding gates when fully operational.

The concourse is needed so the airport can keep pace with thegrowth of China’s largest city and financial capital.

The budget for the development has yet to be announced and the SAA says it aims to welcome 80 million passengers and handle 4.7 million tonnes of cargo annually by 2020, making it Asia’s primary aviation hub.

Corgan’s concept will focus on maximising passenger flow and experience in an efficiently organised building that is designed to be “beautiful yet efficient in both its operation and maintenance”.

Jonathan Massey, principal for Corgan’s aviation design studio, says: “Our mission is to take the passenger experience to a higher level.”

Another important aspect of the design of the satellite concourse is that it can grow and change with the aviation industry and city.


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