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Beijing Airport – The World’s Largest Airport Building

Completed as the gateway to the city for the twenty-ninth Olympiad in 2008, airport Beijing designed by Foster + Partners is the world’s largest and most advanced airport building − not only technologically, but also in terms of passenger experience, operational efficiency and sustainability and access to natural light.

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Designed to be welcoming and uplifting, it is also a symbol of place, its soaring aerodynamic roof and dragon-like form celebrating the thrill and poetry of flight and evoking traditional Chinese colors and symbols. Views along the central axis are marked by the distinctive red columns, which continue along the external edges of the building into the distance, evocative of traditional Chinese temples.

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Although conceived on an unprecedented scale, the building’s design aims to resolve the complexities of modern air travel, combining spatial clarity with high service standards. It will be friendly and uplifting for the passenger as well as easy to navigate. The length from north to south is three and a quarter kilometers, the visual links between the three elements are maintained by strong sight lines as well as visual connections. All spaces are naturally lit and the generous glazing and skylights maintain a link with the outside and its changing sky.

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The embracing curved cantilever of the terminal greets passengers arriving by road or from the GTC in a single welcoming gesture. Departures and arrivals are on separate levels. The single unifying roof canopy is perforated with skylights to aid orientation and bring daylight deep into the building. The color palette moves through 16 tones from red to  orange and finally yellow.

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The roof is a steel space frame with triangular roof lights and colored metal decking. It curves, rising at the midpoint to create a dramatic central cathedral-like space, and tapering towards the edges of the building to provide more intimate areas as passengers travel towards the gates and  the aircraft piers. The trusses that support the glazing echo the changing color system in the roof – shifting from red to orange to yellow.

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Client: Beijing Capital International Airport Company Ltd.
Architect: Foster + Partners
Local collaborating architect: BIAD (Beijing Institute of Architectural Design)

More images here, on Asian Interior Design Pinterest.