The SourceCivil Engineering MagazineShenzhen, China, transportation hub inspired by mangrove’s root structures

Shenzhen, China, transportation hub inspired by mangrove’s root structures

By Catherine A. Cardno, Ph.D.

A competition winner has been selected for the design of the new Shenzhen, China, transportation hub. The competition brief for the Shenzhen Airport East Integrated Transport Hub called for an aspirational design for an integrated intermodal transport hub that would be an urban gateway and a landmark for the Shenzhen Greater Bay Area, according to the architects. The design also needed to be safe, green, intelligent, humanistic, and technologically advanced.

The winning design of the international competition was created by a consortium led by Grimshaw that also included Mott MacDonald, the China Aviation Planning and Design Institute, and the Beijing Urban Construction Design and Development Group as well as schlaich bergermann partner, Atelier Ten, and Gross Max.

“Our design is for a fully integrated transport hub serving multiple modes of transport,” explains David Chudziak, a project director and the aviation surface access director for the project at Mott MacDonald.

“Beneath (the) ground we have high-speed rail, regional rail, as well as three different metro lines,” says Chudziak. “Above ground there is infrastructure for buses, coaches, private cars, and taxis with the existing elevated metro line incorporated into the hub. Our design also incorporates pedestrian and bicycle access and provides connection to wider terminals — both air and sea — with the presence of a ferry terminal close by.”

Thousands of commuters and travelers to the Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport will use the hub daily, as they transfer from high-speed rail to other public transport modes.

While some of the infrastructure is fixed — for example, the location of high-speed rail platforms and metro lines — the pathways that lead to those fixed elements are part of the winning design program, according to Chudziak. “What we have sought to do is ensure that the pathways between those fixed elements provide free and easy passenger connections to other facilities by, for example, reducing the amount of level change between them,” Chudziak says.

To protect the wayfinding for pedestrians and other types of non-vehicular traffic, “we worked hard to keep the ground level free from vehicular traffic,” Chudziak says. “This allows the ground level to be given over to slow traffic, providing a traffic-free environment, combining the hub with the commercial development, and most importantly linking it to the wider community, such that the hub offers transport choice to the local community as well as commuters transiting through.”

The transportation routing design took inspiration from the root structure of a mangrove tree, according to material distributed by the architects. “We are often inspired by the transfer of geometries and forms from nature into architecture,” according to Jolyon Brewis, a senior architect and partner at Grimshaw, who was quoted in press material.

“We have applied this approach to the master plan and interchange design at Shenzhen Bao’an Airport, which is directly inspired by the mangrove tree,” Brewis says. “Not only does this have symbolic value as an important tree to Shenzhen, but it has led us to a solution for the building that is highly efficient. It will also be a wonderful place for people to occupy and travel through. We hope it will lift the spirits of millions of Shenzhen citizens as well as those who visit this incredible city.”

The project is expected to achieve a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum design rating from the U.S. Green Building Council as well as a Chinese Three Star rating as part of the country’s Green Building Evaluation Label.

“Excellent comfort for passengers (will be) achieved with passive environmental strategies and by taking advantage of renewable on-site resources,” explains Scott Edgar, a project principal and the aviation buildings director for the project at Mott MacDonald. “Heating and cooling will be provided by a highly efficient radiant floor system that uses thermal energy stored in the ground.”

For the mechanical systems, “air will be passively conditioned as it is drawn in through the garden courtyard and a thermal labyrinth, reducing heating and cooling demands,” Edgar says. “The roof is designed to provide assisted natural ventilation through attenuated openings and to generate energy via integrated photovoltaic panels.”

The project is sponsored by the China National Railway Corp. Ltd. and the Shenzhen Municipal People’s Government.

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