China Southern Airlines, the largest carrier in Asia, plans to build not just a new corporate campus, but an entire small city as its headquarters on the outskirts of Guangzhou. Named China Southern Airport City, the project is scheduled to begin rising on a 988-acre site about four miles from Guangzhou’s Baiyun International Airport as early as the end of this year. The international architecture practice Woods Bagot is designing the master plan, after winning a competition that included Paul Andreu and Zaha Hadid.
The site comprises two wing-shaped parcels of land, which are separated by a highway leading to the airport. Because the project sits directly beneath a runway approach, the company wants to make it as attractive from the air as on the ground. “It’s the gateway,” says Jean Weng, a Woods Bagot principal based in Beijing. “This is the first thing you’ll see when you’re landing in the city.” As a result, the architects are attempting to give the arrangement of buildings and landscape a sense of “aerial flow,” she says. Guangzhou’s local flower, the kapok blossom, which China Southern uses in its logo, was also a point of inspiration for the plan.