Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport – T3

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All photos © Archivio Fuksas

The highly anticipated new terminal at Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport, Guangdong, China, will be operational from the 28 November, 2013.

Shenzhen is located on a southern tip of the Chinese mainland and on the eastern bank of the Pearl River. It neighbours Hong Kong. One of China’s gateways to the world, Shenzhen is one of the country’s most developed cities and one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. It is one of the most important industrial locations as well as a very popular tourist destination in China. Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport is the fourth largest following Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou in China. 

© Archivio Fuksas

The first airport by acclaimed architects Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas it is set to become an iconic landmark that will boost the economic development of Shenzhen – one of the fastest-growing cities in the world.

Shenzhen Airport (Group) Co. are so pleased with the striking design that they are taking the unusual steps of trying to copyright it.

The terminal is the largest single public building built to date in Shenzhen – it encompasses 63 contact gates, with a further 15 remote gates and significant retail space. It will increase the capacity of the airport by 58%, allowing the airport to handle up to 45 million passengers a year.

The sculptural 500,000 sq.m. / 5,381,955 sq.ft (approx.) terminal, evokes the image of a manta ray and features a striking internal and external double ‘skin’ honeycomb motif that wraps the structure. At 1.5 km long, with roof spans of up to 80m, honeycomb shaped metal and glass panels punctuate the façade of the terminal allowing natural light to filter through. On the inside, the terminal is characterised by distinctive white conical supporting columns that rise to touch the roof on a cathedral-like scale.


The focal point of the design is the concourse located at the intersection of the building. Consisting of three levels – departure, arrivals and services – they vertically connect to create full height voids, allowing natural light to filter from the highest level down to the lowest.

Studio Fuksas has created an interior, as striking and elegant as the exterior. The spatial concept is one of fluidity and combines two different ideas: the idea of movement and the idea of pause. Carefully considering the human experience of such environments, Studio Fuksas focused on processing times, walking distances, ease of orientation, crowding, and availability of desired amenities.

Stand-out features of the interior design include stylised white ‘trees’ that serve as air conditioning vents, and check-in ‘islands’, gates and passport-check areas with a stainless steel finish that beautifully reflect the honeycomb patterns from above. The honeycomb motif translates through into many aspects of the interior and at different scales – from the larger retail boxes to smaller 3D imprints in the wall cover.

The Studio Fuksas designed Terminal 3 is of critical importance to the future of Shenzhen as a booming business and tourist destination, and will bring benefits to the region as a whole.


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