Designed to mimic the natural shape of a manta ray (but also clearly reminiscent of an airplane), the new expansion of the Shenzen Bao’an International Airport in China is covered in thousands of hexagonal skylights. Terminal 3 by Italian firm Studio Fuksas doubles the capacity of the existing airport and will accommodate 45 million passengers per year.
The firm studied a variety of life forms to come up with its highly distinctive, curving, all-white design. “The concept of the plan for Terminal 3 of Shenzen Bao’an international airport evokes the image of a manta ray, a fish that breathes and changes its own shape, undergoes variations, [and] turns into a bird to celebrate the emotion and fantasy of a flight,” they explain.
The steel and glass canopy spans 262 feet (80 meters) across, and the honeycomb pattern of the windows reflects onto the glossy white floor and various stainless steel surfaces for a dazzling geometric effect. Voids in the floors of the three airport levels create double- to triple-height spaces.
Those strange branch-like structures located throughout the interior are air conditioning vents inspired by abstracted trees. The entire structure measures over 5.3 million square feet. It opens to the public on November 28th, 2013. “The spatial concept is one of fluidity and combines two different ideas: the idea of movement and the idea of pause. Carefully considering the human experience of such environments, Studio Fuksas focused on processing times, walking distances, ease of orientation, crowding, and availability of desired amenities.”