Posts tagged with "China":

Placeholder Alt Text

How will the coronavirus affect global construction commodities?

The coronavirus originating from Wuhan, China, is anticipated to negatively impact the global trade of raw materials in the coming months. According to market analytics company S&P Global Platts, the consumption and processing of commodities like iron ore and steel are likely to dip throughout the country and cause ripple effects in economics throughout the world. What’s not clear is how severe the situation will get. In late January, China announced it would shut down over two-thirds of its economy due to the outbreak that started in Wuhan city. Since the Chinese Lunar New Year began as the virus spread, many companies across the mainland have halted production and construction crews have paused work as an extension of the holiday break. Fourteen provinces, including the major manufacturing hub of Hubei where Wuhan is located, and other metropolitan areas such as the port city of Shanghai, will be on lockdown until next week. Fortune noted that those regions make up 90 percent of the country’s copper smelting, 60 percent of its steel manufacturing, and 40 percent of coal output.  Normally during Lunar New Year, companies stop or reduce production, but the recent three-day extension of the holiday—largely due to transportation restrictions to and from quarantined areas and to encourage people to stay home—may cause an added riff in planned-manufacturing and eventually quarterly sales. Bloomberg noted that any changes in China’s steel industry, specifically, “which accounts for more than half global output, set the tone for producers and users around the world.”  Some experts say the impact won’t be felt until next month—S&P Global Platts said February is typically the weakest time of the year for metal output in China since demand is low due to the holiday. Construction is also normally slow because of the colder weather. London-based analytics organization Argus believes after the extended Lunar New Year break is officially over, the market for products like rebar and coil will drop while “the downstream market will be reduced, pushing back demand for finished steel products.”  Despite these fears, China’s most influential steel group, the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA), called for industry stability and asked steel companies not to inflate steel prices because of the declining demand. Reuters reported that CISA wants mills to “reasonably adjust their production rhythms” and “jointly safeguard hard-won ‘de-capacity’ results” in order to maintain profitability and reach levels of normalcy later in the year.  Both in China and worldwide, the long-term effects of the coronavirus are still up in the air. The World Health Organization reported this week that 24 countries have confirmed cases of the outbreak, though most resulted from contact with people who had come directly from China and Wuhan, where 563 people have died. Meanwhile, China is expected to lift its tariff on coking coal, which is used for making steel soon, leaving some U.S.-based mining companies ready to once again sell in the Chinese market.
Placeholder Alt Text

China opens 1,000-bed coronavirus hospital built in less than 10 days

As promised, China has completed the first of two emergency hospitals it is building to address the spread of coronavirus in Wuhan, and it did so in less than 10 days. A second hospital is scheduled for completion on Wednesday, less than two weeks after construction began. The Huoshenshan (Fire God Mountain) Hospital on the outskirts of Wuhan City was delivered to the People’s Liberation Army on February 2 and reportedly began receiving patients on February 3, starting with a group of 50. The 269,000-square-foot facility has 1,000 beds and was built to serve exclusively as a treatment and quarantine center for patients with the 2019-nCoV virus that has much of the country on lockdown. Images on China Global Television Network (CGTN), a government-run media agency, show a two-story facility with a series of wards connected by long corridors. There are two beds to a room, and the rooms are equipped with start of the art medical equipment such as a through-the-wall ultraviolet disinfectant system that the staff uses to deliver food and other supplies to patients. The government has been live-streaming footage of the construction to show how it is responding to the outbreak. Officials say they were able to build the hospital so quickly because they used prefabricated modules that could be assembled on-site, and people worked around the clock in shifts to assemble the components. A second facility known as the Leishenshan (Thunder God Mountain) Hospital, with 1,600 beds, is nearing completion and scheduled to open Wednesday in a different section of Wuhan, 15 miles from the first hospital. Government officials initially said it would have 1,300 beds but increased the number to 1,600 while the building was under construction. Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, is the epicenter of the virus. City officials took the lead on building the structure, working with the country’s health ministry and others. The construction process for both facilities is modeled after the one used to build the Xiaotangshan Hospital, which China built in 2003 to treat patients during an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and is still in operation. More than 7,000 people from around the country reportedly came together to build Huoshenshan Hospital. Construction workers were reportedly paid three times their usual salary. The hospital has a 1,400-member staff drawn from the country’s armed forces, including the People’s Liberation Army Joint Logistic Support Force and medical universities run by the army, navy and air force. The need for the two hospitals has been demonstrated by the way the virus has spread just since construction started. When sitework began for the first hospital on January 23, the death toll in China was 26 with 830 people diagnosed with the virus. By the time the first hospital was delivered, mainland China had reported more than 360 deaths due to the virus and over 9,700 people infected. Wuhan’s cases of infection had risen from 495 to 4,109 during the same period. Worldwide, more than 17,000 cases have been reported on four continents. The United States has had 11 cases of novel coronavirus as of February 3. On Friday, the U. S. government declared the virus a public health emergency and suspended entry for most foreign nationals who visited China. The World Health Organization has also declared the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency but leaders have praised China for its response to the virus. “We would have seen many more cases outside China by now, and probably deaths, if it were not for the government’s efforts and the progress they have made to protect their own people and the people of the world,” said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “China’s response has been really remarkable and, quitely frankly, unprecedented,” Dr. Carlos Del Rio, professor of medicine and global health at Emory University, told CNN. “They have learned a lot from SARS and I think they are applying those lessons in controlling this outbreak.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Zaha Hadid Architects reveals a bulbous headquarters for Chinese smartphone company

Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) has unveiled its competition-winning vision for OPPO’s new headquarters in Shenzhen, China—a bulbous set of interconnected towers straight out of the space age. The Chine smartphone manufacturing giant selected ZHA’s enormous proposal after sifting through a shortlist that included Bjarke Ingels Group, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, and Henning Larsen Architects. Slated for construction in downtown Shenzhen, ZHA’s civic-centric master plan features four glass buildings split into varying heights across a total of 1.9 million square feet. The tallest tower will house 42 floors full of open-plan office space that connects with another tower via a 20-story vertical lobby. Another pair of external towers, smaller in height, will provide circulation for the main structures. Set near the Shenzhen Bay, the globular buildings will provide ample access to daylight and views of the city with their translucent facades for employees and the visitors.  As the fifth largest communication technology company in the world, OPPO experienced rapid global growth since introducing its first smartphone in 2008 and has set out to establish a new space in Shenzhen to house a fraction of its over 40,000 global employees. While the building will be designed to cater largely to its work in tech innovation, OPPO is also aiming to make its new HQ open to the public. To achieve this, ZHA incorporated several levels of public space within the structures, including a Sky Plaza on its 10th floor and a rooftop sky lab with a bar and observation lounge. An outdoor public plaza will also cut through the base of the site, which curves in at the bottom, and gives access to the various shops, galleries, and restaurants located one the first levels of the buildings.  The project is expected to be LEED Gold certified upon completion in 2025 and construction is anticipated to start later this year. The headquarters is just one of the many monumental projects announced for Shenzhen recently, including what will be the tallest tower in China by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill. 
Placeholder Alt Text

China is building a 1,000 bed hospital in six days to deal with coronavirus

China’s Wuhan City, the capital of Hubei, is building a 1,000-bed hospital in six days in response to the coronavirus outbreak that has the city on lockdown, and it plans to build a second dedicated hospital with 1,300 beds over a two-week period. Sitework for the first hospital began last Thursday, when dozens of bulldozers began clearing land on the outskirts of Wuhan, a city of 11 million, where the novel coronavirus reportedly originated. Since then, more than 100 workers have converged on the site in Wuhan’s Caidian district. Local authorities are spearheading the construction effort and have set February 3 as the target date for completing the first facility, the Wuhan Huoshenshan Hospital. According to the South China Morning Post, Huoshenshan Hospital will be both a quarantine and treatment center reserved for people infected with the rapidly spreading coronavirus, which has been blamed for causing the deaths of 80 people and infecting thousands since last month. The primary reason the first facility can be built so quickly is that much of it will consist of prefabricated structures, more than 20 in all, built elsewhere and then installed on the site. A site plan published by the Morning Post showed that the first Wuhan hospital will be a low rise structure with a series of wards for patient care. The prefabricated modules, one to two stories high, will be separated by outdoor space and connected by central corridors. The completed facility will be 269,000 square feet and will hold approximately 1,000 beds, according to The People’s Daily, a state-run media agency. Construction workers are reportedly being paid three times their usual wages because the government considers it an emergency. CITIC Pacific Properties, a subsidiary of CITIC Limited in Hong Kong, has worked with local officials and China’s Ministry of Health to design the Huoshenshan Hospital. China State Construction Engineering is one of the lead builders. “It’s basically a quarantined hospital where they send people with infectious diseases so it has the safety and protective gear in place,” Joan Kaufman, a lecturer at Harvard Medical School, told the BBC. “China has a record of getting things done fast, even for monumental projects like this,” Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for at the Council on Foreign Relations, told the BBC. Because it is an authoritarian country, China can overcome bureaucracy and financial constraints and mobilize a large workforce quickly, added Huang, who is also a professor at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. “Engineering work is what China is good at. They have records of building skyscrapers at speed. This is very hard for Westerners to imagine. It can be done.” People with the 2019-nCoV virus develop flu-like symptoms that can lead to pneumonia, including a fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Existing hospitals and “fever clinics” in Wuhan and other cities have been overwhelmed by people exhibiting symptoms and seeking treatment; especially as the country has locked down Wuhan and a total of 56 million residents in quarantine. Construction of the new medical facilities is one of many measures the Chinese government is taking to address the spread of the virus, along with closing tourist destinations such as Shanghai Disneyland and Beijing’s Forbidden City. On Saturday, the People’s Daily reported that Wuhan plans to build a second hospital, Leishenshan Hospital, designed to accommodate 1,300 patients. The target occupancy date for that project is mid-February. Government leaders say the process for both projects is modeled on a hospital that China built in 2003 to treat patients during an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). That facility, the Xiaotangshan Hospital, was built in Beijing in seven days and eventually was the location where one-seventh of the country’s SARS patients were treated. At the time, the project set a world record for hospital construction. More than 4,000 people worked day and night to build the SARS hospital in 2003, according to news reports at the time. In addition to patient wards, it had an X-ray room, intensive care unit, laboratory and other medical facilities, and according to officials, Wuhan’s hospitals will be comparable in size to the 2003 facility.
Placeholder Alt Text

Zaha Hadid Architects completes twisting tower with the world's tallest atrium

The long-held title of "world’s tallest atrium" has jumped from a building in Dubai to a new tower in Beijing. The recently-opened Leeza SOHO by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) boasts a 623-foot-tall twisting, open-air interior that beats out the Burj Al Arab hotel by 23 feet.  Located in the southwest corner of the city, the 45-story skyscraper sits in the heart of the burgeoning Lize Financial Business District near the area’s main transit hub. It features 1.8 million square feet of commercial office space spread across the two bisected volumes, connected by four sky bridges within the adjoining structural rings. The area in between the two halves makes up the full-height atrium, which spirals upward at a 45-degree angle in order to maximize the amount of light able to reach every floor.  ZHA had to slice the interior of Leeza SOHO in half due to ongoing work on the nearby subway. The building sits at the intersection of five new lines and is atop a below-grade service tunnel. From the outside, the structure doesn’t necessarily look divided; double-insulated, low-e glazing encases the entirety of both volumes like a shell, reducing energy consumption and emissions. During the day, however, the sun shines through the middle of the facility and reveals the void in its center.  Other sustainability interventions include a high-efficiency heating and cooling system, as well as a greywater-collection method. The project is on track to receive LEED Gold certification.  Construction on the project began in April 2015 and took just over four years to complete. ZHA co-developed the building with SOHO China and worked with The Beijing Institute of Architectural Design as the architect-of-record. The tower was one of the final projects designed by Zaha Hadid before her passing in 2016.
Placeholder Alt Text

Safdie Architects completes first phase of enormous mixed-use complex with horizontal skyscraper

The first phase of Raffles City Chongqing, a 22.7-acre skyscraper development in the burgeoning city of Chongqing in southwestern China, has been recently completed. Designed by Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie, Raffles City is sited on the waterfront of the Yuzhong District made up of eight vertical skyscrapers and one “horizontal skyscraper,” comprising a total of 11 million square feet of occupiable space. Raffles City is the fourth project Safdie Architects has designed in collaboration with Capitaland, one of the largest real estate developers based in Asia, and is by far the largest project the firm has ever built. The first phase of the development’s completion was signaled by the opening of a five-story mall within a retail podium, 95 percent of which has already been leased. According to Capitaland, the mall alone is expected to accommodate 400,000 daily visitors across its 2.5 million square feet of retail space. When complete, five of the Raffles City towers will be primarily residential with approximately 1,400 luxury apartments (one of which, at 1,150 feet tall, will become the tallest residential tower in China when complete), while the others will accommodate a total of 1.6 million square feet of office space, 380 hotel rooms and several other programs. Perched above four of the towers is a 980-foot-long "horizontal skyscraper," named The Crystal, which will contain gardens, dining spaces, a clubhouse and an infinity pool set within its cylindrical expanse. This distinct feature recalls the Skypark, a three-acre recreational space resting atop the three skyscrapers constituting the Marina Bay Sands Hotel the firm completed in Singapore in 2010. From a distance, the curved facades of Raffles City are designed to recall the prow-like arcs of “a fleet of ancient Chinese ships,” according to the architects. Safdie Architects began designing Raffles City eight years ago and, with international company Arup Group as the structural engineers and LEED consultants, the building is working towards LEED Gold Level certification. Following the landmark opening of Raffles City’s first phase, the remaining majority of the megadevelopment is anticipated to open by the middle of 2020.
Placeholder Alt Text

China’s Belt and Road Initiative is tying the world together—but what's the end game?

In addition to the more infamous killing and pillaging conducted by its various hordes, the Mongol Empire, first led by Genghis Khan and later by his grandson Kublai, brought nearly all of Asia, much of the Middle East, and some of Europe under a unified system of trade and commerce in the 13th century. Consolidating ancient Silk Road mercantile connections, it brought currency into widespread use and generally sought win-win trade deals with conquered territories. While that empire faded by the mid-14th century, it gave the world a precursor to the modern-day state of China, which has embarked on its own ambitious—and, to some, unsettling—quest to link a considerable portion of the world through trade.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched in 2013 by Chinese president Xi Jinping, includes hundreds of infrastructure projects financed and constructed in part or in whole by Chinese entities in lands far beyond China’s borders. Projects include ports, airports, rail lines, utilities, industrial centers, highways, and even entire new cities and urban sectors. “Belt” refers to roads and railways while, paradoxically, “road” refers to sea-lanes; together they aim for nothing less than the unification of almost all of Asia and Africa.

The initiative segments the globe into “corridors” and involves differing levels of participation from host countries. There is no official count of participating countries, but estimates range from 60—covering nearly all of Asia—to well over one hundred. The BRI’s six main economic corridors include the New Eurasian Land Bridge, the China-Central Asia–West Asia Economic Corridor, the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor, the Bangladesh–China–Myanmar Economic Corridor, the China–Mongolia–Russia Economic Corridor, and the China–Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor.

Analysts estimate that trade generated by the BRI reached $117 billion last year. The total estimated cost, by 2027: up to $1.3 trillion. Whether that investment will pay off for China remains to be seen. Chinese banks and companies hope to profit from loan payments and contracts; the Chinese state hopes to benefit by opening markets and gaining influence. The World Bank estimates that the BRI could reduce transportation times on many corridors by 12 percent, increase trade between 2.7 percent and 9.7 percent, increase income by up to 3.4 percent, and lift 7.6 million people from extreme poverty.

Consisting largely of heavy infrastructure, these projects are unlikely to result in lavish Xanadus to stoke the architectural imagination. With the exception of some impressive new cities and city districts, such as Port City in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and some choice high-speed rail stations, BRI projects include workaday structures like cargo terminals, highway bridges, and the odd potash plant. The BRI recalls past geopolitical initiatives, like the Marshall Plan, by which the United States revived, and benefited from, Europe’s economy after World War II. But the BRI dwarfs the Marshall Plan, which comprised $13 billion of investment, or around $100 billion in today’s dollars—much less than BRI’s trillion-dollar scope.

As arguably the biggest collection of construction projects in human history, the BRI offers ample opportunities for architects, contractors, engineers, and other designers. Many, if not most, of the firms involved are Chinese concerns with close ties to the state. They include state-owned enterprises like China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) and China State Construction Engineering Corporation, the world’s third-largest shipping company and largest construction company, respectively. Both are massive enterprises with numerous subsidiaries, and though they are publicly traded, they ultimately answer to the Chinese Communist Party.

In many ways, this effort to build soft power through hard infrastructure extends a domestic development strategy that China has followed for the past two decades. Itself a developing nation not long ago, China has built up its own ports, roads, and railroads in order to unify its national economy and give its manufacturing sector—which comprises 20 percent of the world’s output of goods—access to global markets.

The Chinese government optimistically refers to the BRI as a 21st-century Silk Road, one that harmoniously links economies and increases prosperity for dozens of countries and billions of people, representing up to 60 percent of the world’s economic output. China pitches these projects to host countries as tools of economic development. Analysts say that success, for China and BRI partners alike, depends on far more than concrete and steel. The onus falls on host countries to make use of China’s largesse. Efficient trade relies on everything from effective local governance to the mobility of workers to the mitigation of environmental impacts. In the case of partners like Belarus (sometimes referred to as Europe’s last dictatorship) whose governments are unstable, corrupt, or underdeveloped, reforms may pose greater challenges than does the development of megaprojects.

In many cases, benefits to host countries have not materialized. Many projects use little local expertise or labor; rather, they are boons for Chinese engineering firms, construction companies, and suppliers such as steel and concrete manufacturers. Once built, they take on a nearly colonial tenor, moving raw materials out of host countries and moving Chinese goods into them. And no matter how economists feel about BRI projects, the initiative has already alarmed environmentalists. The number and physical size of projects promise to remake urban landscapes, alter—and destroy—natural landscapes, and consume untold millions of tons of natural resources, building materials, and fossil fuels. Chinese environmental laws and practices are also notoriously lax compared to those in the U.S. and Europe. In 2017 the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) issued a report documenting BRI projects’ numerous incursions into sensitive habitats. WWF identified “high impacts” throughout nearly all of Southeast Asia and “moderate impacts” in BRI corridors in Central Asia. BRI projects have also been associated with increases in the use of coal for power production in many host countries. 

Beyond environmental effects, even when host countries own their assets, they are indebted to Chinese financiers. Reports indicate that many countries cannot pay off construction loans, leaving them indebted to China indefinitely. Many projects have turned into white elephants. Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport in Sri Lanka was designed to accommodate one million passengers per year. Though fully operational, Mattala currently serves zero passengers, while also servicing $190 million in debt to Chinese banks. Having been a relatively poor, developing country so recently, China likely understands the pressure points of the Myanmars and Mozambiques of the world better than any other global power does.

The Center for Global Development estimates that as many as eight countries involved with the BRI are already at risk of debt distress. Some countries are in debt to China by a factor of as much as 20 percent of their GDPs. Others are now approaching BRI proposals more gingerly than they might have when the program launched. Malaysia recently canceled $22 billion in BRI projects; other countries, particularly Kenya and Mozambique, are pushing back against proposals and renegotiating deals. Ultimately, economic domination via financing may not be a great strategy—flush with cash though they may be, Chinese banks want returns on their investments no less than Western banks do. Then again, even if they aren’t repaid, the Chinese state might still get what it wants in the form of global influence.

In other words, the BRI is as much a geopolitical experiment as it is an economic development strategy.

Josh Stephens is contributing editor to The California Planning & Development Report and author of the forthcoming The Urban Mystique: Notes on Los Angeles, California, and Beyond.

Placeholder Alt Text

Unknown Works uses 3D scanning to replicate fish and chips shops in Chengdu

The London and Hong Kong-based design and research studio Unknown Works has used 3D scanning to help create a compact fish and chips shop called Scotts TKL with a folding facade in Chengdu, China. Inspired by the aesthetics of the United Kingdom’s distinctive “chippies,” the firm used Lidar scanning and photogrammetry in various fish shops, including the original Scotts in York, to capture details down to the joinery, wallpaper, and salt shakers. From these scans, the studio generated point clouds which were then processed to form models that were sent to contractors—who normally specialize in making Disney mascots and Marvel film sets—to create CNC molds that were later hand-finished. The molds were cast in white glass-reinforced plastic which join together to make a sleek facade. Since the shop is only 345 square feet, Unknown Works placed the various facade components on axes so that they can swing out when Scotts TKL is open, creating more usable space and opening the restaurant up to the street corner. Tables fold down from within the walls. Unknown Works was inspired by the idea of “Shanzhai,” a word which describes, in the words of the firm, “the act of copying and imitation that is so often indiscriminately directed at Chinese commerce.” By reimagining the distinctively British chippie for China using scans of shops back in the U.K., the studio hopes to encourage a broader dialogue about cultural exchange and the dynamics of how the U.K. and China relate to one another. Unknown Works has used 3D scanning throughout their practice, including animations inspired by the theorizations of the artist Wassily Kandinsky. 
Placeholder Alt Text

Archi-Tectonics designs major urban project for the 2022 Asian Games

For the 2022 Asian Games, the biggest multi-sport event second to the Olympics, New York-based architecture firm Archi-Tectonics has designed a net-zero sports park in Hangzhou, China. The 116-acre development, named Hangzhou Asian Games Park, was designed in collaboration with !melk Landscape Design and Thornton Tomasetti structural engineering. It is the largest project to date for Archi-Tectonics, representing over two million square feet of facilities woven together across a mile-long park, including two sports stadiums, fitness and visitor centers, a shopping mall, and 140,000 square feet of wetlands.

Winka Dubbeldam, the founder of Archi-Tectonics, has said that the design of Hangzhou Sports Park intends to fuse its landscape and building facilities as a way to anticipate its long-term use after the games take place three years from now. In an effort to reduce waste, the earth excavated during construction will be transformed into artificial hills throughout the site. 

The two sports stadiums are the most prominent features on either side of the park, one a 5,000-seat golden cylinder for tennis tournaments and the other a field hockey arena with a parabolic roof. The two stadiums are connected by a sunken shopping mall marking the center of the site, designed with a green roof that blends into its park surroundings. Described by the firm as a “below-grade retail valley,” the mall interacts with the preexisting Yiyang Road and River.

Hangzhou Asian Games Park broke ground in July 2019 and is scheduled to be completed before the Asian Games take place in September of 2022. To oversee the project, Archi-Tectonics opened its third office at the Architectural Design and Research Institute at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou (its first two are in New York and Amsterdam). In addition to the sports park, the Asian Games project will also bring new metro lines and inner-city railways.

Placeholder Alt Text

SOM's Tianjin CTF Finance Centre meets the breeze with a biomorphic form

facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from
For what will be the eighth-tallest building in the world when finished in Tianjin, China, later this year, SOM didn’t want to do a by-the-numbers glass facade. Which is good, because the designers couldn’t have even if they wanted to—the Tianjin CTF Finance Centre’s convex and concave surfaces, along with its tapered shape, meant to help shed the wind loads bearing on such a tall building (it will eventually reach over 1,700 feet), demanded an original solution.
  • Facade Manufacturer China Southern Glass Jangho
  • Architect SOM RLP (Executive Architect)
  • Facade Consultant Arup
  • Location Tianjin, China
  • Date of Completion 2019
  • System Custom unitized curtainwall
  • Products China Southern Glass IGU Jangho low-iron laminated glass
The building’s biomorphic form, reminiscent of the pistil of a hothouse flower, suggests it could have used curved glass panels, but it doesn’t—the client wanted something less risky. The architects instead chose flat glass panels—about 11,500 total—from China Southern Glass (CSG Holding Limited). The vision glass comprises Insulated Glass Units with heat-strengthened, laminated, low-iron outer lites, a double-silver, low-e coating, and tempered, low-iron inner lites. Spandrel panels are made of low-iron laminated glass. The use of flat glass panels meant that the designers had to get a bit more creative with the mullions to cover the doubly curved surfaces. They turned to an adaptable mullion system from Jangho, a major Chinese curtain-wall manufacturer, that could take over some of the formal gymnastics. In total, only 476 unique glass panel types were needed. The design team also wanted to find a way to minimize the window-to-wall ratio to reduce solar gain and increase insulative value while still providing ample daylight. They ended up with V-shaped mullions that are almost 11 inches wide on the exterior and narrow to a much smaller profile on the interior. The building’s taper gave each floor a different shape; therefore, the exterior panels fit differently around every level, which meant that the mullions couldn’t easily be arranged in perfectly continuous lines up the building. Rather than trying to approximate vertical stripes with the mullions, the designers staggered them to create a snakeskin-like effect that reads as organized but organic, a reflection of the flexible thinking required to erect this giant.
Placeholder Alt Text

Beijing opens its gargantuan new airport by Zaha Hadid

It’s official: Zaha Hadid Architects' massive design for the new Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX) is open to the public and expected to see up to 45 million passengers a year, with hopes of accommodating 72 million by 2025. Envisioned by the late Hadid herself in conjunction with French construction engineering firm ADP Ingénierie, the sprawling “starfish” structure is now considered the largest terminal building in the world at 7.5 million square feet. It was built in less than five years in an effort to relieve air traffic from the nearby Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK), a 2008 design by Foster + Partners. Located at the opposite end of China’s capital to the south, PKX sits on the outskirts of the Daxing District.  Earlier today at 4:23 p.m. in China, the first commercial flight took off from the airport and headed to Guangzhou. Six other domestic flights departed from the four runways on site before 5 p.m. Over the coming weeks and months, several flight routes will be transitioned from PEK to PKX while some airlines, like British Airways, will move their entire Chinese operations to Daxing. In total, the airport is currently slated to handle 630,000 flights annually.  AN previously reported on the terminal’s sweeping interiors and its many signature-Zaha design moments. From the curved white walls and ceilings to the slick, polished floors, the airport is arguably one of the most visually complex in the world. It features radial skylights that extend out from the center of the structure down the length of its legs. A copper-colored skin clads the airport’s roofs and from above, it truly looks alien. From the inside, it takes on almost a new-age modernist tone.  The airport's grand opening comes just days before the 70-year anniversary since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. French construction engineering firm ADP Ingénierie led the design and build-out with ZHA.
Placeholder Alt Text

Neri&Hu's Aranya Art Center opens on China's Gold Coast

Neri&Hu’s Aranya Art Center, located in China’s “Gold Coast” of Qinhuangdao, is a part of the developer Aranya’s seaside villa community. The newly built resort town is all about communal activities, with work from firms ranging from OPEN Architecture to Vector Architects that emphasize culture and education—and the newly opened Aranya Art Center is no exception, as its inscribed cylindrical design and tone of "calm drama" creates a unique opportunity for art and entertainment.  The building’s heavy concrete envelope is richly textured and pierced by the occasional bronze-fitted windows and centered around an open-air pond-cum-amphitheater. When a performance is scheduled, the base of the round room becomes a descending wave of concrete steps punctuated with custom lighting. When out of use, the depression is filled with water, creating a reflective pond whose surface plays with the natural light and splashes on the surrounding concrete walls.  The enclosed mass around the circular opening is filled with unexpected amounts of natural light and warm woods, and snaking corridors that choreograph the way visitors wander through the art center. The interiors were designed for peace in mind, for the maximum enjoyment of art. Despite the heavy and industrial concrete that informs the first impression of the building, the warm interiors and light-filled spaces have the ability to surprise, and Neri&Hu have said that the overall design was informed by the sea just a stone’s throw away. Accordingly, the art center is warm and calm in the summer, and iced and sharp in the winter.  Although it's unfolded in the midst of China’s building boom, the art center was designed to encourage a sense of community and a slowing down. The traditional nods to Chinese architecture and history, from the presence and importance of the pond to the non-linear pathways and use of wood, encourage subtle reflection in a ready-made developer project.