MAD Designs a Snowflake-Inspired Terminal for Harbin Taiping International Airport

MAD Architects, led by Ma Yansong, has released details of their design for Terminal 3 at Harbin Taiping International Airport in Northern China. Referencing the gentle slopes of the surrounding landscape, and the region’s immense snow and ice, MAD’s scheme creates an architectural poetry that settles into its locale in the spirit of a snowflake falling to earth, while simultaneously expressing the surreal, interstellar space of future air travel.

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© MAD Architects

The 3,300-hectare terminal establishes an architectural program on a human scale, providing a multi-sensory experience that is also efficient and economical. The scheme’s snowflake-shaped, five-spoke departure corridors greatly shorten commuting time inside, while also minimizing congestion. 

© MAD Architects

The interior is adorned with a number of indoor gardens denoting major zones. Lush greenery connects the building’s different levels, offering an escape for passengers to pause and take moment within nature, away from the hustle and bustle of airport life.

© MAD Architects

Snowdrift-inspired ridges on the roof function as skylights, flooding the internal spaces with natural light to reduce energy costs. At the same time, their rhythmic direction naturally guides travelers through the terminal space.

© MAD Architects

A Ground Transportation Center hub connects to the terminal, containing high-speed rail, municipal subway lines, airport buses, and other urban transport modes. The hub’s multi-tiered garden layout integrates natural plant growth into its various functions, providing a comfortable, relaxing area for travelers as they transition between the airport and city.

© MAD Architects

When completed, the terminal is expected to handle 43 million passengers and 320,000 outgoing flights by 2030.

Competition Organizer: Heilongjiang Airport Management Group Co., Ltd.
Airport Consultant: China Aviation Planning and Design Institute
Executive Architect: Central South Architectural Design Institute Co., Ltd.
Typology: Transportation Infrastructure
Site Area: 3,269 hectares
Building Area: 918, 500 square meters
Principal Partners in Charge: Ma Yansong, Dang Qun, Yosuke Hayano
Associate Partners in Charge: Liu Huiying, Tiffany Dahlen
Design Team: Li Cunhao, Sun Shouquan, Zhu Yuhao, Yao Ran, Ma Yue, Yang Xuebing, Giorgio Castellano, Connor Hymes, Chen Yien

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Cite: Niall Patrick Walsh. "MAD Designs a Snowflake-Inspired Terminal for Harbin Taiping International Airport" 24 May 2019. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

© MAD Architects


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