Shenzhen International Airport opens

Shenzhen International Airport

The new Terminal 3 at Shenzhen International Airport has opened after five years of planning and construction. With an overall length of 1.5km and a gross floor space of 500,000 sq m, it will increase the potential capacity of the Shenzhen International Airport by up to 40m passengers per year.

The project was designed by Italian architect Massimiliano Fuksas and engineered by the German firm Knippers Helbig. The terminal roof spans an impressive 700m over the check-in area, reaching a height of 25m, and is supported by a 36m grid layout of slender columns. The concourses are column-free and in the transverse direction span up to 45m.

Shenzhen International Airport 2

Knippers Helbig undertook the discretisation of the surfaces, with the aid of specially developed parametric software tools. The openings and inclination angles of the panes of glass were equally matched to each other as were the daylight and energy input. Developing the geometry involved the specification of structural steel construction as well as the coordinates of all facade elements on the outer shell. The program allowed iterative optimisation of the facade at very short time intervals, making it possible to complete the preliminary design of both the facade and the structure within the short space of a year, with handover of the geometry, static and rule details of the framework and facade. The project planning was then taken over by the BIAD Office in Beijing.

Knippers Helbig was responsible for the development of structural solutions for the reinforced concrete of the arrival and departure levels as well as for the static analysis of the steel structures of the roof and facade. Here, the diamond-shaped structure refers directly to the honeycomb shape of the facade and is stiffened additionally by cross members. The spring-loaded bearing bolts of the steel structure permit uniform distribution of temperature and especially seismic loads on the supports, creating a unified impression of the structural elements up to 400m long.

Shenzhen airport Terminal 3

The building envelope is dominated by a honeycomb-like facade which through its double skin largely permits indirect light to enter the interior through 25,000 openings. Depending on the sun’s position, rays of sunlight also enter the building directly, offering unusual continuously changing lighting effects throughout the day. At numerous places along the concourses, strip-like windows offer panoramic views of the airfield.

The success of project is the result of the close collaboration between Italian, German and Chinese planners and thanks to the great openness of the client towards innovative approaches to design and planning tools as well as unconventional technical solutions.