Urumqi International Airport North Terminal 1
Urumqi, Xinjiang, China
Urumqi International Airport
North Terminal 1
Urumqi, Xinjiang, China

An assembly of cultures coming together for the same purpose: exploration. The airport population is a diverse set of travelers, all with their own reasons for flight but with the same need for transportation. The airport is more than just a destination, it’s a means for cultural interaction, and an airport terminal must echo that concept and embrace the explorer in every traveler.

Today, air travel is perhaps the most important vehicle for cultural, economic and human exchange. A famous ancient Chinese phrase, “It is better to travel 10,000 miles than to read 10,000 books,” defines a state of mind that is as true today as it was visionary at the time it was written. The New Urumqi North T1 terminal captures this spirit for the 21st century as a new gateway to western China and key transportation node in the Chinese aviation network.

The Vision

Create a gateway that represents a “continuous journey” through inspiration from the region’s historically significant “Silk Road.”

The Design

The inspiration for the architectural design concept was derived through three main elements:

Landscape Inspiration
The textures and lines prevalent in both the rugged, mountainous and the smooth flowing desert areas experienced while traversing the “Silk Road” provide inspiration for the architectural expression of the design concept. The forms present in the landscape, whether viewed from the air or eye level, represent sweeping, free-flowing elements, contrasting the serene mood of this region of China. The most dominant colors represented in the landscape are red, orange, yellow, copper and rust, and can be found in the strata of the various mountains and rock faces. It is this very specific form and color that inspires the architectural expression.

Culture Inspiration
The culture of the Xinjiang region is influenced by a multitude of diverse countries. From Russia and Mongolia to the north, to Kazakhstan to the east and India and Nepal to the south, this region’s history is rich in tradition, color and textiles. The same hues that are represented in the colorful landscape are found throughout the various fabrics, patterns and textures in both traditional and modern clothing. It is this very specific color palette and prominent textile pattern that is represented in the architectural building skin.

The “Silk Road” Inspiration
The rich history of the “Silk Road” refers to a network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa. Translated, the “Silk Road” is continuous journey and represents an extended 4,000-mile trek. The “Silk Road” gets its name from the lucrative Chinese silk trade, which began during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to A.D. 220). In recent years, both the maritime and overland silk routes again are being used, often closely following the ancient paths. Trade on the “Silk Road” was a significant factor in the development of the great civilizations of China, India, Ancient Egypt, Persia, Arabia and Ancient Rome, and in several respects helped lay the foundations for the modern world. It is this very path from which we draw inspiration for the architectural expression through representation of silk movement in the wind along the piers and at various points along the perimeter of the architecture.

These three inspirational elements form a graceful, elegant and progressive new “gateway to the West” design concept and represent an interpretation of those profound features throughout the architecture. The combination of efficient airfield functionality, efficient terminal operations, flexibility in use and for future expansion, efficient and flexible spatial organization for airline/alliance needs, compact shape for seamless passenger connectivity, and high-quality passenger service, in conjunction with the graceful expression, will create a new architectural gateway for Urumqi’s “continuous journey” into the future.