Zaha Hadid Architects' giant starfish-shaped airport opens in Beijing

Zaha Hadid Architects has completed its five-pronged terminal building at Beijing Daxing International Airport, which is one of the largest airports in the world.

Designed by the late Zaha Hadid and current studio principal Patrik Schumacher, along with airport specialist ADPI, the 700,000-square-metre terminal to serve Beijing has been designed to be as compact as possible.

The airport is arranged around a central "grand courtyard" with five aircraft piers radiating directly out to give the building the appearance of a starfish from above.

Zaha Hadid Architects' giant starfish-shaped airport opens in Beijing

The four-storey airport is arranged around this central space, which is naturally lit with a glass roof that the studio refers to as a "central orientation space dome".

The airport's check-in island, international and domestic security desks and domestic retail area are all arranged on different levels within this central area.

"Echoing principles within traditional Chinese architecture that organise interconnected spaces around a central courtyard, the terminal's design guides all passengers seamlessly through the relevant departure, arrival or transfer zones towards the grand courtyard at its centre – a multi- layered meeting space at the heart of the terminal," explained the studio.

Zaha Hadid Architects' giant starfish-shaped airport opens in Beijing

From the central space, passengers can board planes from the 79 gates, which each have airbridges connecting directly to the terminal, arranged around the five aircraft piers.

According to the studio, this is the most efficient arrangement to quickly allow large numbers of passengers to quickly reach their planes.

Zaha Hadid Architects' giant starfish-shaped airport opens in Beijing

"The compact radial design of the terminal allows a maximum number of aircraft to be parked directly at the terminal with minimum distances from the centre of the building, providing exceptional convenience for passengers and flexibility in operations," said the studio.

"This radial configuration ensures the farthest boarding gate can be accessed in a walking time of less than eighth minutes."

Zaha Hadid Architects' giant starfish-shaped airport opens in Beijing

Arranged around the main courtyard space, Zaha Hadid Architects has created a series of flowing forms that support the roof and act as skylights to bring light into the space.

Further light is brought into the building by linear skylights that stretch the length of each of the five aircraft piers.

Zaha Hadid Architects' giant starfish-shaped airport opens in Beijing

A sixth radiating arm contains the 80,000 square-metre transportation hub, which contains a high-speed and local rail stations, as well as a hotel and offices.

The airport is powered by solar panels and has a centralised heating system with waste heat recovery supported by a ground-source heat pump. It also has a rainwater collection and water management system.

Zaha Hadid Architects' giant starfish-shaped airport opens in Beijing

Zaha Hadid Architects was founded in in 1980 by Hadid. The studio has been led by Schumacher, who is one of the speakers at Dezeen Day, since Hadid passed away in 2016.

The studio recently completed the Al Wakrah Stadium for World Cup in Qatar and the Opus hotel in Dubai.

Photography is by Hufton + Crow. The movie is by Dan Chung.

Project credits:

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 directors (ZHA): Cristiano Ceccato, Charles Walker, Mouzhan Majidi
Project design director (ZHA): Paulo Flores
Project architect (ZHA): Lydia Kim
Project coordination (ZHA): Eugene Leung, Shao-Wei Huang
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
Local Design Institutes: BIAD (Beijing Institute of Architecture & Design) + CACC (China Airport Construction Company)
Consortium Team (Competition Stage): Pascall + Watson, BuroHappold Engineering, Mott Macdonald, EC Harris Consultants, McKinsey & Company, Dunnett Craven, Triagonal, Logplan, Sensing Places, SPADA
Security system + baggage systems design: China IPPR International Engineering Co
Information and weak power systems design: China Electronics Engineering Design Institute + Civil Aviation Electronic Technology Co
High speed rail design: The Third Rail Survey and Design Institute Group Corporation
Subway design: Beijing City Construction Design Research General Institute Co
Viaduct/bridge design: Beijing General Municipal Engineering Design & Research Institute Co
Fire performance design: ARUP
Public art: Central Academy of Fine Arts
Green technology: Beijing TsingHua TongHeng Urban Planning and Design Institute
BIM design: DTree Ltd.
Architecture facade: XinShan Curtainwall + Beijing Institute of Architectural Design (Group) Co –Complex Structure Division
Metro system: Lea+Elliott
Lighting: Gala Lighting Design Studio
Identification/signage system: East Sign Design & Engineering Co
Landscape: Beijing Institute of Architectural Design (BIAD) Landscape Design Division