China opens futuristic airport terminal

A flying ray? A trapped spaceship? No, it’s Shenzhen’s new airport terminal
  • Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport’s

Unhinge your jaw — Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport’s avant garde and eco-friendly new terminal is now open for fliers.

The futuristic building in the southern Chinese city replaces three airport terminals, which ceased operation on Wednesday following three test runs of the new facility.

Shenzhen’s new terminal, designed by FUKSAS, an Italian architectural firm, resembles a mobula, commonly known as a flying ray.

The connection? The Chinese word for “blessed” sounds like “mobula.”

The new terminal — which reportedly cost 8.5 billion yuan ($1.4 billion) to construct — is three times larger than the current terminals combined, providing 76 airplane slots.

Although it’s far from being the biggest in China — Beijing’s new Terminal 3 is about twice as large — the 451,000-square-meter new terminal in Shenzhen, which is about 40 kilometers from Hong Kong, could very well be one of its greenest.

The terminal has 200 check-in counters and approximately 200 shops.

The first flight from the terminal, operated by Shenzhen Airlines, is scheduled to depart for Hohhot in Inner Mongolia, via Wuhan, on Thursday morning.

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The honeycomb-patterned windows in the ceiling allow for maximum penetration of sunlight, reducing energy consumption.

Rainwater is collected and recycled in toilets and used to water indoor plants.

It’s the first airport in China to feature a 10-megawatt solar power plant, which cranks out enough power to support 10,000 U.S. households per month.

Other interesting features include 116 white tree-shaped air conditioners that blend in with the terminal’s interior design. The A/C trees pull triple duty, also serving as the public address system and fire equipment.

Future airport developments

“The only regret of this project would be that the subway line won’t be completed together with the terminal,” said Shenzhen transport commission spokesman Huang Min at the launch press conference.

The old terminals remain connected to the city with subway line number 1.

A subway line that will connect the new terminal to the city won’t be ready until 2016.

The airport and the transportation commission are looking into building a temporary line between the current terminals and the new terminal. The journey would take about 25 minutes.

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A five-star airport hotel with 404 rooms is still under construction.

The future of the current terminals hasn’t been decided, but ideas on the table include converting them into shopping centers, exhibition centers and terminals for business jets or low-cost carriers, according to Zhang.

“The new terminal in Shenzhen will serve a different market than Hong Kong and Guangzhou (the two other major airports in the region),” said William Zhang, a marketing officer with Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport.

“Shenzhen has been serving as the hub for China’s domestic air transport.”

Shenzhen Bao’an international Airport opened in 1991.

Last year, the airport transported more than 29 million passengers and more than 855,000 tons of cargo.

With an 18% growth per year, the new two-runway terminal is expected to handle 45 million passengers and 2 million tons of cargo annually.

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