Case Study

Urumqi International Airport North Terminal China’s Historic Silk Road Inspires a New Global Gateway

Ürümqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China

The Challenge

This international airport is situated at the historical crossroads of East and West, both physically and conceptually. Design competitors were challenged to incorporate the intertwined cultures and histories of China’s centuries-old Silk Road region into an airport for the new millennium.

The Design Solution

Created with Pascall+Watson, this concept for a 399,500 square meter (4.3 million square foot) airport terminal draws upon influences from the cultures, history and topography of central Asia and China’s Silk Road. The Silk Road, a 4,000-mile network of interlinking trade routes forming an historical connection and continuous journey between Asia and Europe, is an appropriate precedent for the creation of a new world hub airport. The region’s rugged mountains and desert dunes come to life in the terminal’s undulating form, while patterns, colors and textures of traditional silks and other textiles are reflected in the building materials and suggest the movement of fabric in the wind. The architectural expression of these inspirational elements, combined with the efficiency, flexibility, connectivity and high quality passenger service of a modern airport terminal, create a new architectural gateway for Urumqi’s “continuous journey” into the future.

The Design Impact

Urumqi International Airport serves not only as a gateway between East and West, but as a sign of Xinjiang’s ongoing significance in the economic and social landscape of modern China. In the context of the world’s great airports, Urumqi’s aspiration to grow this new development up to 44 million passengers per year or more heralds the region’s growing presence on the world stage.

Project Features

  • International design competition
  • 399,500 square meter (4,300,000 square foot) terminal
  • 74,300 square meter (800,000 square foot) intermodal transportation center
  • 26 million passengers per year
  • 84 aircraft stands
  • 850 meter (2,789 foot) baggage claim area
  • 2,272 parking spaces