Covering 500,000 square metres, the terminal is the largest public building constructed to date in the rapidly growing city, which is located in South East China’s Guangdong province. Terminal 3 will allow the airport to process 45 million passengers annually, an increase of almost 60%.

Architects Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas, previously based in Rome and Paris, won the Terminal 3 project by international competition in 2008 with a striking design that evokes the image of a manta ray. The stunning 1.5-kilometre-long structure features a double-skin cladding system, which uses recurring honeycomb-shaped metal and glass panels to allow the entry of dappled natural light to the building.

The design is epitomised by an impressive internal concourse situated at the intersection of the building, where full height voids allow the light to filter down to all three floors of the terminal.

In designing the terminal’s interior, Studio Fuksas focused on elements that are paramount to the public experience of airports, such as processing times, walking distances, ease of orientation, crowding and availability of amenities. The resultant, fluid space features sculptural steel trees, which act as air-conditioning vents, as well as check-in islands that rise from the floor.

The honeycomb motif from the structure’s façade is also referenced throughout many elements of the interior design, including the large retail boxes and 3D imprints in the wall cladding.

The spectacular Terminal 3 has so impressed the client, Shenzhen Airport (Group) Co, that it has undertaken to have the design copyrighted. The Group has also engaged Studio Fuksas for two further stages of the airport extension, which will be completed in 2025 and 2035 respectively.

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