China’s booming capital Beijing will soon boast the world’s most expansive airport terminal, having recruited internationally celebrated architect Zaha Hadid to produce plans for a structure that (like many of her works) is huge, undulating, and seemingly cornerless. In all, the 7.5 million-square-foot terminal has plenty of room for the expected 125,000 daily travelers—not to mention the feel of a dystopian fantasy directed by The Wachowski Brothers.
Hadid’s firm writes that the new terminal “will be extremely user focused, efficient, adaptable, and sustainable,” which would be quite the feat given the sheer size of its central courtyard alone. With help from its curved spokes and central terminal-within-a-terminal, the structure also promises to be of “human scale,” despite its mass. (Indeed Zaha Hadid has been criticized before for designing projects without “human scale,” i.e. awe-inspiring pieces of futurism that blow apart budgets and displace urban populations.)
So how far will travelers have to schlep to reach a connecting flight? As much as three miles within the one terminal, with room for expansions in later years. And the room is needed. Beijing’s other airport, a Norman Foster-designed plan that opened in 2008 for the city’s Olympics, is the second-busiest airport in the world. According to the Telegraph, in 2014, it processed 86 million passengers, some 13 million more than London’s Heathrow. @wbbrjp
The new Daxing Airport, under construction roughly 30 miles from Beijing’s core, is currently being built to help shoulder the burden. The price? An estimated $13.1 billion. Construction is supposed to wrap in 2018. Stay tuned for updates.
Amy Schellenbaum is the digital editor at Travel + Leisure
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