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Beijing Capital Airport Terminal 3

Beijing Capital Airport Terminal 3 - The Pearl in the Dragon's Mouth
Terminal 3 – The World’s Largest Airport Terminal

Three years, 9 months and 27 billion yuan, Beijing Capital Airport’s Terminal 3 is Asia’s largest freestanding structure and the world’s largest airport terminal, and if you’ve got a Beijing flight booked, the chance’s are you’re going to come through it.

Beijing Terminal 3, which opened in March 2008, was designed by British architects Foster and Partners in partnership with Dutch airport planners NACO and engineers Arup and has capacity for 50 million passengers per year.

The colour scheme uses Chinese favourites red and yellow, said to reflect traditional Chinese architecture such as the forbidden city. The overall theme of the airport’s third terminal building is the Chinese dragon. Seen from above, the building looks like an elongated dragon clutching a pearl (the transportation centre) in huge jaws, whilst the glinting triangular skylights resemble a dragon’s scales, the transport network resembles the dragons beard, and the long terminal building is the dragon’s spine.

Inside Terminal 3, departing passengers can relax in an indoor garden in the traditional Chinese style and the whole terminal was designed in line with principles of feng shui, as well as maximizing use of natural light to reduce the need for lighting and heating.

Perhaps the best way to appreciate Beijing Capital Airport’s humungous Terminal 3 is through the statistics:

Beijing Terminal 3:

Has an area of over 1 million square metres, or 10 million square feet, making it the largest airport terminal in the world and Asia’s largest freestanding structure. Taking just under four years, it was also approved and built at breakneck speed..

Beijing Capital Airport’s Terminal 3 is larger than all of London Heathrow Airport’s 5 terminals combined, and is so big that in bad light you can’t see from one end to the other. The roof area alone is over 80 acres.

Beijing Capital Airport Terminal 3’s mind-boggling baggage handling system cost US$240 million to construct, can handle 19,200 pieces of luggage per hour, and monitors baggage with over 200 CCTV cameras.

The terminal is home to 445 lifts and over 1,800 miles of cables.

The transportation centre covers an area of 300,000 square metres, and has parking space for 7,000 cars.

More than 50,000 workers were employed in the construction of the terminal, and China is forecast to build a whopping 97 more airports before 2020.

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