Appended: June 13, 2008

Adding another mega-terminal to China’s aviation landscape, the Shenzhen Airport Authority announced it has selected Rome-based Fuksas Architects, run by Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas, to design the new Terminal 3 at Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport.


In a banner year that saw Beijing open its enormous Norman Foster-designed Terminal 3, and Shanghai its new Terminal 2 at Pudong International Airport (designed by East China Architectural Design & Research Institute), Fuksas’s expansion will make the Shenzhen airport the fourth-largest in China. (Not surprisingly, Shenzhen is the fourth largest city in China.) To be completed in phases, with the first portion to be done by 2015, and the last by 2035, the 4.3 million square-foot (400,000 square-meter) terminal will handle 40 million passengers a year. By comparison, Foster’s Beijing terminal handles 50 million passengers in 10.8 million square feet (1 million square meters).

The Fuksas scheme follows the airport’s master plan, arranging a large check-in terminal with an expansive winglike roof on one side of a structure that, in plan, resembles a cross and contains the departure gates. “We want to create a sense of quality of life inside the airport,” said Massimiliano Fuksas. “When you arrive at the terminal from the city, you’re enveloped by a departure hall that looks like a huge fish. You check in, then there’s a metamorphosis. The fish becomes more like a bird.” Apertures of various sizes cut through the building’s meshlike skin, bringing in daylight and reducing the need for electric lighting. A double-skin envelope hides mechanical systems and helps modulate temperature swings and reduce energy usage.

Most of China’s 40-plus airports currently under construction have been designed by large corporate architecture firms, but the Shenzhen Airport authority cast a wide net for its design competition, inviting an eclectic roster of firms that included Foreign Office Architects, Reiser + Umemoto, von Gerkan Marg and Partner, Foster and Partners, and the late Kisho Kurokawa, who passed away last October.

Initiated in mid-2007, the competition was officiated by multiple juries, which created a problem when they disagreed on the winner. According to people involved, the international jury chaired by Anthony Vacchione of Skidmore Owings and Merrill selected the firm Reiser + Umemoto, while another picked Fuksas. Key players on the client side also took different sides, with the Shenzhen Planning Bureau supporting Reiser + Umemoto’s long-span-concrete design and the Shenzhen Airport Authority advocating Fuksas’s steel structure.