Daxing Journal: Once famous for its watermelon festival, now for the world’s largest airport terminal.

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Beijing Daxing International Airport, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects (photo credit Hufton + Crow)

by Ron Bernthal

In January, 2013, the Government of China announced the long-awaited approval for the construction of a new international airport that would reduce congestion at Beijing Capital International Airport, which is presently the second busiest airport in the world based on the number of passengers served.

Construction of the new airport began a year later in a Beijing agricultural suburban district known as Daxing, located about 27 miles south of the capital. In September, 2019, less than six years after construction began, the $10.5 billion Beijing Daxing International Airport , designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, opened to the public.

Beijing Daxing International Airport (photo credit Hufton + Crow)

Built at a cost of approximately $17 billion Beijing Daxing is expected to handle 72 million passengers by 2025, and reaching about 100 million passengers and four million tons of cargo after a planned expansion. As a good indication of how air travel in the Beijing region has grown, the main Bejing Capital airport had already reached 100 million passengers in 2019. Obviously the new Beijing Daxing location could not have opened soon enough to relieve will relieve the congestion at its sister airport.

Beijing Daxing International Airport (photo credit Hufton + Crow)

The new star-shaped terminal at Beijing Daxing covers 6,620 acres, the largest single-building airport terminal in the world. Arranged around the main courtyard space, Zaha Hadid Architects has created a series of flowing forms that support the roof and act as skylights to bring light into the space.The four-storey airport is arranged around this central space, which is naturally lit with a glass roof that the studio refers to as a “central orientation space domeOther construction projects within the airport include airline bases, an intercity railway, high-speed subway station, access highways, and an air traffic control tower.

Beijing Daxing International Airport (photo credit Hufton + Crow)

A sixth radiating arm contains the 80,000 square-metre transportation hub, which contains a high-speed and local rail stations, as well as a hotel and offices. The airport is powered by solar panels and has a centralised heating system with waste heat recovery supported by a ground-source heat pump. It also has a rainwater collection and water management system.

Beijing Daxing International Airport (photo credit Hufton + Crow)

The Beijing suburb of Daxing will soon be known around the world as the site of the world’s largest single airport terminal, and millions of passengers will pass through Daxing on their way to this very busy airport. Each year, however, on the 28th of May, Chinese farmers from the district will still come together for Daxing’s Watermelon Festival. Afterall, China leads the world in watermelon production and consumption.

Judging watermelons at the Daxing Watermelon Festival (photo XinhuaLi Xin)

Farmers will compete for the prize for the best watermelon, showing off their the most spectacular watermelons. Hopefully, Daxing will continjue to maintain its reputation as the “agricultural district of Beijing,” despite the proximity of the Bejing Daxing Internaional Airport, and all the airport-related facilities (hotels, parking areas, affiliated businesses) that will soon surrond the airport. What better place to go than Daxing on a hot summer day to enjoy all kinds of delicous Chinese melons and even visit the Daxing Watermelon Museum.

Farmers choose watermelons for their customers by tapping the produce at a wholesale market (photo Dong Naide/For Chian Daily)