Zaha Hadid’s massive ‘starfish’ airport opens in Beijing

Daxing international, said to be world’s largest single-building terminal, to handle 72m passengers

China has opened a vast, multibillion-dollar airport in the country’s capital, in the run-up to a major political anniversary.

Less than five years after construction began, the 450bn yuan (£50bn) Daxing international airport was officially opened on Wednesday in a ceremony attended by the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping.

China is preparing to celebrate its National Day on 1 October, marking 70 years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, against the backdrop of unrest in Hong Kong and a flagging economy.

People attending the launch ceremony for the new Beijing Daxing international airport in Beijing.
People attending the launch ceremony for the new Beijing Daxing international airport in Beijing. Photograph: STR/AFP/Getty Images

The new mega-airport, the second in Beijing, was designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid in the shape of a starfish with five connected concourses. It is said to be the world’s largest single-building airport terminal. At 700,000 sq metres, with four runways, it is expected to be able to handle 72 million passengers a year by 2025. By 2040, the airport is expected to expand to eight runways and accommodate 100 million passengers a year.

Officials have been showing off the sleek new airport for the past year, hosting tours of the space, which is to include customer-service robots to deliver flight information and facial recognition-enabled check-in.

Critics have questioned the need for a second airport in the capital, especially one that is almost twice the distance from the city centre as the existing airport.

Interior view of Daxing airport in Beijing.
Interior view of Daxing airport in Beijing. Photograph: Zhang Chenlin/Xinhua/Barcroft Media

Officials say Daxing will alleviate traffic pressure on the city’s existing international travel hub, Beijing Capital in the north-east, which had more than 100 million travellers last year, second in the world only to Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta, Georgia, in terms of passenger traffic.

China is expected to surpass the US to become the world’s largest market for airport travel by 2022. But the aviation sector has a poor reputation for flight disruptions, the result of frequents delays caused by overcapacity and delays caused by the military, which controls most of the airspace. Officials hope the new airport will lessen those delays.

Domestic and foreign airlines, including China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Air China as well as British Airways and Finnair, have said they will move all or part of their operations to the new airport.

Contributor

Lily Kuo in Beijing

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Tokyo Olympic stadium architect denies copying Zaha Hadid design
Kengo Kuma says strict requirements for stadium mean some similarities are inevitable but says his is ‘absolutely a different building’

Justin McCurry in Tokyo

15, Jan, 2016 @10:45 AM

Article image
Zaha Hadid hits back over scrapped stadium for 2020 Tokyo Olympics
London-based architect’s firm says warnings over selection of building contractors and other issues were not heeded by Japan’s sport council

Caroline Davies

28, Jul, 2015 @3:22 PM

Article image
Tokyo split over Zaha Hadid’s ‘gigantic white elephant’ Olympic stadium
Justin McCurry: Top architect’s design under fire as Games organisers struggle to sell their 2020 vision to the people

Justin McCurry in Tokyo

17, Jan, 2015 @1:13 PM

Article image
Zaha Hadid's sport stadiums: 'Too big, too expensive, too much like a vagina'

London-based Iraqi architect under fire as pressure mounts for designs in Qatar and Japan to be scaled back

Oliver Wainwright

28, Nov, 2013 @8:12 PM

Article image
Architect Zaha Hadid in bid to win back Tokyo 2020 Olympic stadium contract
After being dumped by organisers for cost overruns, the famed designer has joined forces with a Japanese engineering company to build the showpiece arena

Justin McCurry in Tokyo

07, Sep, 2015 @5:59 AM

Zaha Hadid's Guangzhou Opera House – in pictures

Zaha Hadid's Guangzhou Opera House has just opened in China in spectacular, asymmetrical style. Here's what it looks like inside and out

Jonathan Glancey and Dan Chung

01, Mar, 2011 @9:23 AM

Zaha Hadid on song: China's Guangzhou Opera House

Jonathan Glancey at the opening of the Guangzhou Opera House

Jonathan Glancey and Dan Chung

01, Mar, 2011 @9:18 AM

Article image
Zaha Hadid’s successor: my blueprint for the future
Patrik Schumacher preaches the gospel of ‘parametricism’, a system of architecture designed to cut out human error by valuing technology over art and intuition

Rowan Moore

11, Sep, 2016 @7:00 AM

China opens longest sea bridge

22-mile bridge sea bridge links Shanghai to the industrial city of Ningbo 75 miles across Hangzhou Bay

Riazat Butt, religious affairs correspondent

01, May, 2008 @11:01 PM

Article image
China’s ugliest buildings: contest to celebrate unsightly architecture begins
This year’s contenders include a violin-shaped church and a ‘welcome to hell’ glass bridge joining two mountains

Vincent Ni China affairs correspondent

20, Sep, 2021 @1:52 PM