China’s capital has already begun to take the wrapping off of the country’s newest transport hub and the phased roll out of Beijing Daxing airport is bringing to the city not just four new runways, but a new terminal designed to provide community space for travellers and residents, while also guaranteeing the project’s financial performance.
To help ensure that the 25,340 square metre “land side” terminal provides inviting shops, engaging entertainment and efficient passenger flow, the project’s developer, China Resources Land, engaged Hong Kong-based design firm Lead8 to provide commercial terminal planning and interior design for the development which will support what is expected to soon be the world’s busiest airport.
Lead8, which has won numerous awards for their retail and mixed-use projects globally, sees the resulting commercial terminal as an opportunity to demonstrate their multi-disciplinary and experiential approach within the largest single airport terminal on the globe.
With the Beijing Daxing development expected to come into service in the coming months, Lead8 has already won a project more than 10 times larger in its home city, after New World Development last year chose the five-year-old design firm to serve as the architect for its 350,000 square metre SkyCity commercial complex at Hong Kong International Airport.
A Natural Progression into Airport Projects
“The appointment was a natural progression for Lead8,” Lead8 co-founder and executive director David Buffonge told Mingtiandi. “Our team has a strong collective experience in airport design with some of us having been involved with Terminal 4 and Jewel at Changi Airport, as well as with projects at Hong Kong International Airport, in our previous roles.”
A UK-trained architect with over 20 years’ experience in designing large mixed-use developments around the world, Buffonge points out that designing an airport requires more than just aesthetic sense, as the planners need to accommodate complex operational requirements such as security, people and baggage logistics, way finding and lighting.
Given the need for airport travellers to stay connected while in transit, Lead8’s design for the Beijing airport destination, includes adding a co-working space which allows visitors to catch up on their office work. With the transportation hub expected to handle 72 million visitors per year by 2025, the workspace will also add to the catchment of retailers in the complex by keeping people on site longer.
The incorporation of flexible workspace into the airport design was part of the plan for Lead8 which says its brief was, “to deliver a new generation of workspaces with integrated retail, dining and entertainment offerings within this new major aviation hub.”
“Good design in aviation is understanding the function of space and how people can circulate in an intuitive way,” Buffonge said, “but at the same time maximize opportunities for footfall through dynamic retail environments. Our primary focus is on the customer experience and how we curate this through the airport journey.”
Supporting Asia’s Largest Developers
With team members who have previously been involved with some of the world’s most innovative airport projects, Lead8 was able to quickly take on the opportunities and challenges currently facing airport operators as competition heats up among regional hubs.
“Airports in Asia have realised that there is more revenue to be had from non-aviation streams and today many airports extract more than 60 percent of their revenue from commercial components such as retail, office and advertising,” Lead8’s Buffonge said.
The developer of the landside terminal at Beijing Daxing airport was already familiar with Lead8’s capabilities from the design firm’s work on China Resources Land’s MixC Shenzhen Bay and MixC Jinan commercial projects, with the Shenzhen development having won awards from the ICSC, MIPIM Asia and A&D China.
Buffonge sees a wider movement by airport operators to expand their offerings in order to capitalise on the massive number of people passing through the projects, while also providing valuable amenities for travellers.
Asia’s Next Generation Transport Hub in Hong Kong
Leading the future of that transformation in airport functionality is SkyCity, a 350,000 square metre mixed-use project currently underway at Hong Kong International Airport, which will add to the retail and cultural facilities of an airport that already serves 70 million visitors every year.
Engaged by New World as the Lead Design Architect, Planner and Interior Designer for what will be the largest retail complex in Hong Kong, Lead8 says it is creating new retail and entertainment experiences for the complex.
“At SkyCity, the programme on offer is really world-class retail and dining together with state-of-the-art entertainment for Hong Kong,” Buffonge explained. The design director also pointed out the connectivity provided by the project’s pedestrian paths linking HKIA Terminal 2 with the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge and ferry, rail and road access points to the airport.
“SkyCity is probably one of the most connected airport city destinations under construction today,” Buffonge said. “It transforms the city’s airport into an ‘Airport City,’ while it also functions as a super-regional connector accessible by air, sea, and land.”
While unable to disclose details of the confidential design, Lead8 says it is taking experiential elements to the fore at SkyCity, building an entertainment focus into the project by capturing the broad opportunities presented by tourism and business to deliver a new shopper-tainment experience in Hong Kong.
New Airport Paradigms for Shifting Economies
The next-level design approach implemented in future airports is part of an evolution in how economies, and whole societies interact with space, according to Lead8.
“Our designs represent recognition of a transformation in how we work and conduct business is today’s shifting economies,” Buffonge said. “As part of this you will also see new offers like co-share retailing, sports and leisure, brand showrooms, hybrid online retail and dining, and even interactive pet hotels in future airport destinations.”
Together, these airport terminal designs are part of a convergence of space use that parallels a blurring of the lines between spaces for work, consumption, play and transportation.
“What these projects showcase is the fluidity of our sectors today,” Buffonge explained. “Aviation is no longer seen as purely transport, retail is not only about shopping, and mixed-use is not just your traditional office-hotel-retail mix.’
While this convergence of uses can present a design challenge, the Lead8 director says that, from its work on these projects, the company’s team has learned that designing the world’s future destinations means curating the space provided to align with the evolving needs and expectations of end-users, whether they be shoppers, travellers or residents of the region’s fast-growing cities.
This sponsored feature was contributed by Lead8. All images are courtesy of Lead8 Hong Kong Limited.