Beijing Capital Airport was opened in 1958 and by now it is the world’s second-busiest behind Atlanta in the US, thus the second Beijing airport has been built in Daxing to take the pressure off the overcrowded existing international terminal in southern Beijing.

The new Daxing International Airport is situated 46km south of the city centre in the historically backward area. The first-class infrastructure will certainly help reduce the economic imbalances between urban Beijing and its outskirts and the surrounding Hebei Province.

Further, the public transport infrastructure that comes with the airport will provide essential links between strategic destinations including Beijing and the possible new Chinese capital city Xiong’an.

The World’s Biggest Airport

The $17 billion project was developed by Beijing New Airport Construction Headquarters, with the masterplan mainly prepared by Netherlands Airport Consultants with Zaha Hadid as the chief architect before her death in 2016, in collaboration with Beijing Tsinghua Tonheng Urban Planning and Design Institute, while the facade was designed by XinShan Curtainwall and Beijing Institute of Architectural Design. China IPPR International Engineering was responsible for the security system and baggage system designs.

The other major contractors involved in the project include China Electronics Engineering Design Institute, Civil Aviation Electronic Technology, The Third Rail Survey and Design Institute Group Corporation, Beijing City Construction Design Research General Institute, Beijing General Municipal Engineering Design & Research Institute, Central Academy of Fine Arts, Dtree, Lea-Elliot, Lighting Design Studio, East Sign Design & Engineering, BuroHappold and Arup.

Xsight Systems, T-Systems, Schindler, Thales, Beijing EasySky Technology and Oasys are among the chief suppliers, with 98% of products made in China.

The Airport with 98 Percent Made in China

During the past five years, a total of 100,000 people worked on the project. At one time, there were 50,000 workers on the site simultaneously.

The building features a central atrium supported by eight C-shaped columns, each having a 106m wide skylight at the top.

The massive skylights are framed with 60,000 steel bars which are linked by 10,000 steel balls. All bars and balls are issued a unique ID as each of them having a unique position in the structure while the allowance error is just a few millimetres.

A skylight during the construction.

The project employed 65 new technologies, obtained 103 patents and broke over 40 world records. The acceptance criteria have been met by 100 percent.

The Airport Inspired by Traditional Chinese Architecture

The overall design concept of the airport is based on the traditional Chinese architecture principle, which uses a central courtyard to interconnect various spaces.

The 700,000 sqm airport, equivalent to 97 football, is the world’s biggest free-standing terminal with five connected concourses serving four runways. In the aerial view, it looks like a giant phoenix reborn from the ash about to take off at any minute.

A plan to expand to 8 runways is already in process. It is set to welcome 72 million travellers a year by 2025 and  100 million passengers annually by 2040 when the airport reaches its full capacity.

The Airport as an Integrated Traffic Hub

Daxing Airport is the first airport in the world to have double-deck departure and arrival platforms, providing passengers with a smoother departure and arrival experience.

The airport is also well connected with the transport network through metro trains and roads. There are 16 rails underground which can be accessed directly from the terminal, so it will not be an issue for passengers to travel between Beijing CBD and Daxing International Airport.

It only takes 20 minutes to travel from Beijing’s West Railway Station to Daxing Airport through Beijing-Xiong’an high-speed railway. There is also a cheaper option for the journey by metro train connection from Beijing’s Caoqiao station to the new airport.

An Autonomous Car-Maneuvering System

For those who drive a car to the airport, the automatic parking system will move the vehicle from a traffic lane into a parking spot.

The driverless parking area.

A Terminal on China’s Feng Shui Central Axis

The spot where Mr Hu Ge stands in the Daxing International Airport is right on the central axis of Beijing that links the Forbidden City and Olympics Bird’s Next. 46 kilometres south is Tiananmen Square, the centre of Chinese capital city, and from Feng Shui point of view, the heart of China.

The Airport with an Ecological Sustainable System

Ecological sustainability features prominently at Daxing International Airport. The photo voltaic modules on the terminal roof enable the airport to generate 10MW of solar power.

The 100m structural spans in the terminal create large public spaces and allow flexible internal reconfiguration.

The vaulted roofs on each of the six arms supporting the terminal structure not only help generate the solar power but enable natural light to enter the building, which further reduces the carbon footprint of the airport.

The central heating that includes a waste heat recovery system is capable of supplying energy to approximately 232,257m2.

This photo shows the union of function and aesthetics, and the integration of natural elements and indoor space in the terminal structure.

The multi-layered indoor courtyard is situated right at the centre of the terminal, which can accommodate 79 gates with aerobridges at the same time, allowing the rapid flow of traffic.

The airport’s rainwater collection and water management system can store, permeate and purify up to 2.8 million cubic metres of rainwater. During heavy storms, the system will direct the water towards wetlands and rivers, therefore preventing flooding and heat island effects in the surrounding area.

Everything in Daxing International Airport, from the transfer desk to baggage claim and bathrooms, is clearly signed in English. Many of the signs further indicate walking distances, helping the passengers better budget their time.

An Intelligent Terminal

A knowledgeable and forever patient robot receptionist is already ready to answer passengers’ inquiries.

The check-ins are fully digitalised. Coupled with the facial recognition system throughout the airport from check-in to custom security, the time to reach the gate can take less than 30 minutes.

The airport looks gigantic, yet the smart design makes it possible for the time spent walking from the central courtyard to any gate within 8 minutes.

A Secret Garden

There is a Chinese garden within the terminal.

The garden includes a pond, a pavilion, a zigzag bridge, verandas and public lounges, providing a taste of local culture for international travellers and a place for a short break in a natural environment during the trip.

An aerial view of the Chinese garden.

Underground Aircraft Refueling Facilities

The aircraft refuelling facilities are stored underground and can be easily lifted up with one hand.

A refuelling facility has been lifted up to the ground.

A Bird Control Team

An electronic bird with red glowing eyes and an intimidating eagle call is installed in the airport to scare the birds away.

There are various species of birds nest in the vast wetlands around the Daxing Airport. Bird control not only protects the airport but the natural ecosystem.

The laser bird control devices are the main equipment used in Daxing Airport.

A young bird controlling team at Daxing International Airport.

Mr Hu Ge, one of China’s best and most popular actors who stars in China’s celebrated TV series Nirvana In Fire and in Cannen’s Best Film nominee The Wild Goose Lake, takes a tour of the brand new Daxing International Airport. 

An aircraft from China’s Southern Airlines became the first commercial flight to take off from Daxing Airport on September 25, while British Airways became the first international airline to launch a flight there in early November 2019. 

It’s believed China’s air travel market will overtake that of the US by 2022.

At present, there are over 200 airports in the cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Chongqing, Xi’an, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Guilin, Kunming, Huangshan, Xiamen, Urumqi and Harbin, just to mention but a few popular destinations.

It is expected that by 2040, Daxing Airport will become the world’s busiest terminal when it receives 100 million passengers and 20 million tonnes of cargo annually.

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