Harbin is a city of seven million people located four hours flying time north of Beijing and with a very specific landscape, climate and history. The brief for this new 45 million passenger International and Domestic Terminal was to provide a world class facility that could be identified as regional and progressive – a gateway and hub for North East China.
The design competition entry was prepared by HASSELL in association with Airbiz, AYD and CNARDI. It draws on the city's identity as an 'ice city' and contender to host the 2020 Winter Olympics. The forms are referenced in the fractured ice that covers the local Songua River in the winter and the structure was developed using a computerised 3D matrix incorporating lucky Chinese numbers as the reference points for the roof shells.
The forms are reflected in the landscape which defines the terminal plaza area – the folding plates covering parking areas protect vehicles from ice and snow. Salt water and fresh water ponds that contrast by freezing, or not freezing, reinforce the seasons, and the use of the local black soil and specific flora further place the airport in context. The translucent roof and funnelled glazed roof supports respond to the low elevation of the sun and all water is captured with trace heating to prevent freezing.