Studio Fuksas completes Terminal 3 at
Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport

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Thousands of hexagonal skylights bring natural light into this new terminal that Italian architects Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas have completed at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport in China (+ slideshow).

Terminal 3 at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport by Studio Fuksas

Terminal 3 more than doubles the capacity of the existing airport, which is located 32 kilometres north-west of Shenzhen's city centre. It is set to open later this week and will facilitate up to 45 million passengers per year.

Terminal 3 at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport by Studio Fuksas

Studio Fuksas looked at the shapes of various living creatures when planning the layout of the complex. "The concept of the plan for Terminal 3 of Shenzen Bao'an international airport evokes the image of a manta ray, a fish that breathes and changes its own shape, undergoes variations, [and] turns into a bird to celebrate the emotion and fantasy of a flight," said the architects.

Terminal 3 at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport by Studio Fuksas

A curving roof canopy constructed from steel and glass wraps around the airport, accommodating spans of up to 80 metres. Hexagonal skylights perforate the surface of this roof, allowing natural light to filter through the entire terminal.

Terminal 3 at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport by Studio Fuksas

This pattern, which the architects describe as a honeycomb, is reflected in the polished tile floor, as well as on the stainless steel check-in desks and gates designed especially for the airport by Studio Fuksas.

Terminal 3 at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport by Studio Fuksas

"The interiors have a sober profile and a stainless steel finish that reflects and multiplies the honeycomb motif of the internal skin," said the architects.

Terminal 3 at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport by Studio Fuksas

The concourse is divided across three levels, allowing separate floors for arrivals, departures and servicing, and voids in the floor-plates create a series of double- and triple-height spaces.

Terminal 3 at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport by Studio Fuksas

Cylindrical white columns are positioned at intervals to support the arching roof and sit alongside air-conditioning vents designed to look like chunky trees.

Terminal 3 at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport by Studio Fuksas

This is the first airport by Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas, whose previous projects include the Lycée Georges Frêche school for hotel management in France and Foligno Church in Italy. The architects are now working on two further extensions to the airport, which will complete in 2025 and 2035.

Terminal 3 at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport by Studio Fuksas

Read on for more information from the design team:


Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport, Terminal 3

The highly anticipated new terminal at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport, Guangdong, China, will be operational from the 28 November, 2013.

Terminal 3 at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport by Studio Fuksas

The first airport by acclaimed architects Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas it is set to become an iconic landmark that will boost the economic development of Shenzhen - one of the fastest-growing cities in the world.

Terminal 3 at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport by Studio Fuksas

Won by international competition, it has undergone a remarkably rapid process of design and construction, completing within 3 years.

Terminal 3 at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport by Studio Fuksas

The client, Shenzhen Airport (Group) Co., is so pleased with the striking design that it is taking the unusual step of trying to copyright it.

Terminal 3 at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport by Studio Fuksas

The terminal – the largest single public building to be built to date in Shenzhen - encompasses 63 contact gates, with a further 15 remote gates and significant retail space. It will increase the capacity of the airport by 58%, allowing the airport to handle up to 45 million passengers per year.

Terminal 3 at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport by Studio Fuksas

The sculptural 500,000 sq.m. / 5,381,955 sq.ft (approx) terminal, evokes the image of a manta ray and features a striking internal and external double 'skin' honeycomb motif that wraps the structure. At 1.5 km long, with roof spans of up to 80m, honeycomb shaped metal and glass panels punctuate the façade of the terminal allowing natural light to filter through. On the interior, the terminal is characterised by distinctive white conical supporting columns that rise to touch the roof at a cathedral-like scale.

Terminal 3 at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport by Studio Fuksas

The focal point of the design is the concourse located at the intersection of the building. Consisting of three levels – departure, arrivals and services – they vertically connect to create full height voids, allowing natural light to filter from the highest level down to the lowest.

Terminal 3 at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport by Studio Fuksas

Studio Fuksas has created an interior, as striking and elegant as the exterior. The spatial concept is one of fluidity and combines two different ideas: the idea of movement and the idea of pause. Carefully considering the human experience of such environments, Studio Fuksas focused on processing times, walking distances, ease of orientation, crowding, and availability of desired amenities.

Terminal 3 at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport by Studio Fuksas

Stand-out features of the interior design include stylised white 'trees' that serve as air conditioning vents, and check-in 'islands', gates and passport-check areas with a stainless steel finish that beautifully reflect the honeycomb patterns from above.

Terminal 3 at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport by Studio Fuksas

The honeycomb motif translates through into many aspects of the interior and at different scales – from the larger retail boxes to smaller 3D imprints in the wall cover.

Terminal 3 at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport by Studio Fuksas

The Studio Fuksas designed Terminal 3 is of critical importance to the future of Shenzhen as a booming business and tourist destination, and will bring benefits to the region as a whole.

Terminal 3 at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport by Studio Fuksas

Studio Fuksas are engaged on two further phases of the airport extension, scheduled to complete in 2025 and 2035 respectively.

  • auter

    I like it.

  • ike

    Did this project brief come with a budget?

  • Concerned Citizen

    “Terminal 3 more than doubles the capacity of the existing airport”, or “it will increase the capacity of the airport by 58%”. This article must have skipped the editing room.

    “Check-in ‘islands’, gates and passport-check areas with a stainless steel finish that beautifully reflect the honeycomb patterns from above.” Uhhhh, if you say so. Since it is mentioned so many times, there should be photos.

    In spite of the pitiful documentation, I like the shell of the airport and its means of support. The rest of the building seems to have fallen into mediocrity.

  • Steeevyo

    Nice if you are not an epileptic. Health concerns follow form – a new paradigm in architecture.

    • http://www.facebook.com/chuck.anziulewicz PolishBear

      That’s what I was thinking. The interior is not exactly easy on the eyes. As much of a pain in the ass that commercial air travel already is, I would prefer a more relaxing environment.

      • Markus Schulz

        Yaaawwwwwwwnnnnn.

  • Jonathan

    Look forward to flying directly to SZ now instead of HK. This looks much better than the current airport and matches the stadium nicely too. I hope they designed a better taxi rank area than the old airport.

    • js

      What’s wrong with the old taxi rank? :)

  • mikele

    Nice.

  • minwix

    An airport that looks like a giant airplane from above… I can dig it.

  • ignorant

    Does somebody know how many designers are needed to develop a project like this one? And which software/s could they have possibly used?

  • Stu

    I don’t know if that works from the perspective of someone with poor visibility – the differentiation between surfaces is hard to read with the reflectance. Clearly no regard for LRV values on that project. It’s still nice though :)

  • erik

    Looks very unique at first. Bit of a fashion piece. One has to admit there is rigour in the expression. Not so easy on the eye indeed. Let’s wait and see, in a few years time. What looks so exiting today looks dated and dusty tomorrow. Little building resilience against ageing it seems. No maintenance culture in China, too many wicked surfaces for that matter. Hong Kong Terminal 1 still looks good and very solid on the inside for that matter, 15 years on.

  • http://www.quxiaofeng.me/ csxfqu

    When it rains, the plastic buckets are more than travellers. There is a reason why we build roof as a plain concrete board.