MAD Architects unveils China’s ‘floating feather’ airport design for Changchun

“A Floating Feather”: China’s Latest Airport Design Revealed

Written by Stephy Chung, CNN

One of China’s best-known architects, Ma Yansong, has unveiled his practice’s vision for a serene new airport terminal in the northeastern city of Changchun, Jilin province.

The design, said to resemble a “floating feather” when viewed from above, was unveiled on Tuesday after Ma’s Beijing-based MAD Architects won an international competition to power the expansion of Changchun’s Longjia International Airport.

Covering an area of ​​nearly 270,000 square meters (2.9 million square feet), the sprawling, fan-shaped building will connect with the airport’s two existing terminals while also being directly connected to downtown Changchun via road and subway. It is expected to accommodate 22 million passengers annually when complete, although an opening date has yet to be announced.

According to MAD Architects, the spring inspiration is a nod to the airplanes that come and go from the airport every day. Credit: MAD Architects

Created in collaboration with the China Airport Planning & Design Institute and the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design, the proposal is one of a series of eye-catching new – or expanded – airports opening across China. Recently completed projects, overseen by both international and local architects, include Beijing’s starfish-like Daxing International Airport, helmed by renowned Zaha Hadid Architects, and Chengdu New Tianfu International Airport, shaped like a mythical sunbird .
According to the Transportation Network Planning Outline released by the Chinese government in early 2021, the country aims to have 400 operational airports by 2035 – a significant increase from the 241 operational airports in 2020.

Beijing Daxing International Airport: China’s new mega-airport ready to open

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Digital renderings released by MAD Architects show the Changchun Terminal Building clad in white, with slits along its gentle arches that let in natural light while emitting the glow of artificial light, creating an elegant golden effect. The terminal anchors what the company describes as a “three-fingered corridor structure,” with planes parked neatly around the 54 gates.

Natural light is filtered through the spring-shaped roof. Credit: MAD Architects

A digital representation of the interior of the airport terminal. Credit: MAD Architects

“The future major transportation hub is first and foremost an important public space in the city,” Ma said in a press release about his office’s winning design. “Art, synthesis, diversity and humanity are all important.”

Nature-inspired aspects of the design include an interior garden and trees, and a wooden ceiling reminiscent of the surrounding forest. The flowing, curvilinear aesthetic is consistent with MAD Architects’ repertoire, with the firm’s buildings often featuring traditional Chinese ‘shanshui’ (or ‘mountain and water’) landscape paintings.

Ma designed Inner Mongolia’s famous Ordos Museum, which would depict the sun rising over the surrounding grasslands, and Fake Hills, a hillside seaside residential complex in Beihai, southern China. He’s also one of the few Chinese architects to have won major commissions abroad, including the lavish Absolute Towers (nicknamed “Marilyn”) in Ontario, Canada, and LA’s forthcoming Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, an otherworldly-looking art space inspired by ” Star Wars creator George Lucas. The latter is scheduled to open in 2025 and will include a grassy landscaped roof and 100,000 square feet of gallery space.

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The architect bans straight lines from China’s cities

“I think in our modern cities there are many boxes; there are many straight lines,” he said in a 2017 interview with CNN. “They often deal with efficiency, function, structure.

“There is no nature. People love to get closer to nature and to other people, so we need to create environments that allow people to make those emotional connections.”

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