Analyzing Famous Architecture Buildings 03: Beijing Daxing International Airport

Today’s Topics:

  • Massive Scale, Massive Time Frame
  • Envelope Concept
  • Assembly

Massive Scale, Massive Time Frame

This major airport up to this point has yet to begin to reach its full capacity due to COVID-19, but this has not stopped it from becoming a modern marvel of the world.

Funded by the Chinese government, this has been a 17.5 Billion dollar project for Beijing designed in collaboration with ADP Ingeniérie and Zaha Hadid Architects.

Image from Zaha Hadid Architects

Spanning from late 2014 and finally being completed in September of 2019, this project has worked on day in and day out maintaining its schedule and bringing in massive quantities of material with just steel alone accounting for 52,000 Tonnes and the roof weighing about 32,000 Tonnes.

Outside of just being an airport, overall it is a major transportation hub with rail tracks laid underneath the mega project, along with shuttles, buses and taxis accessible to the public.

For air travel, it currently has 4 runways with the possibility to expand to 7 total. With a “starfish” shape, this building is enormous and has an area of around 700 meters ^2. With an additional 80 meters for the transportation center.

Image from ArchDaily

Envelope Concept

One of the most attracting features of this new airport is its outer appearance. As said before, it was designed in a starfish shape, but the design is deeper than just a shape.

Starting from the edges around the starfish shape of the building, everything leads towards the center through the portrayal of natural light. This acts as a way finding guide and gives the feeling of freedom instead of congestion by design.

Image from Business Traveller

It is also an envelope, a shell, or a cover for what is happening inside. There is a unique separation between the outdoor space and the interior spaces. It is as if there are multiple buildings within one.

It does not just stop there either. The shape of the building also has very unique qualities. The form takes the shape of a cloth draped over and around structures giving the building its tenacious curves and complex layers of design.

Fabrication and Assembly

The design intent of this building proves how complex geometric shapes and figures can be and it requires a lot of precision and accuracy.

To emulate the form of a cloth draping required extravagant design intent and methodology.

Image from Alamy

There were thousands of different forms and pieces that come together to make this design function. Along with multiple layers of design elements that have to work together.

Image from International Fire Protection

Some parts were able to be prefabricated on the job site while others, day in and day out were being assembled on the job site. There was always work being done whether it was in a factory producing components, or at the site welding pieces together.


Thanks for tuning into this week’s blog post! I hope you have enjoyed the series! leave a comment if you would like to see more content like this in the future and as always. Dream Big!

Published by Alonzo Colon

Architecture Student at Virginia Tech

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