China’s new ‘starfish’ airport, designed by the late Zaha Hadid, has opened its doors.
Beijing Daxing International Airport (BDIA) is located 46km south of Beijing city centre, and will initially serve 45 million passengers a year.
The first flight took off from the $11 billion (Dh40 billion) airport on Wednesday at 4.23pm local time – a China Southern Airlines A380 flight. Seven domestic airlines are already operating from the new airport, while international airlines including Cathay Pacific, Finnair and British Airways have announced routes to BDIA.
The airport is forecast to serve 72 million passengers a year by 2025, with ambitious expansion plans to take that up to 100 million, and 4 million tonnes of cargo annually.
Iraqi-British architect Hadid, who died in 2016, designed the airport in the shape of a starfish, with five connected concourses, making it the world's largest single-building airport. The 700,000 square metres passenger terminal includes an 80,000 square metres ground transportation centre offering direct connections to Beijing, the national high-speed rail network and local train services, while the airport itself boasts four runways.
The design echoes the principles within traditional Chinese architecture that organise interconnected spaces around a central courtyard. The design also allows for the maximum number of aircraft to be parked directly at the terminal.
In 2004, Hadid became the first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize. She established Zaha Hadid Architects in 1980. Since then, the company has worked on projects such as the London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympics Games and Maxxi – National Museum of the 21st Century Arts in Rome.
Closer to home, Abu Dhabi’s 842-metre-long Sheikh Zayed Bridge is also a design by Hadid, who took inspiration from sand dunes to create the structure’s curved arches.