The Airport Passenger Terminal Building

Air transport has played an important role in Hong Kong's commercial success. Therefore the overall aim of the Airport Authority has been to develop an airport that will serve the 21st century's needs of the SAR. The terminal building grew out of the master plan   the facility could have been realised as a collection of individual buildings that were joined conveniently under the same roof

The 1.2 km airport terminal building at Chek Lap Kok is the world's single largest building. With a total floor plan area of about 515,000 sq m, the contract price paid to create such a building was $10.1 billion, excluding other facilities for E & M works etc. The contract includes 89 lifts, 2.5 km of moving walkway (people movers, 38 fixed link bridges and 248 check-in desks. The terminal's full length measured at its centre is over 1.8 km. A third of the building is constructed below ground.

The 1.2 km roof of the terminal building is the most spectacular of all terminal structures. The innovative wave form roof is symbolic of flight. The roofing works presented a new set of challenges; not only the sheer size of the roof, but also the combination of new technologies involved. The terminal building has a sophisticated and dimensionally precise steel roof, comprising 129 modules, each with an average weight of 120 tonnes.

The modules were assembled in an onsite fabricating yard from over 100,000 individual components imported from the UK, China and Singapore and shipped to Chek Lap Kok Island in containers. The modules were assembled and transported from the yard on special transporters, and lifted or slid across the roof of the terminal building by large cranes and sophisticated track systems.

The design of the building is highly functional. There are no suspended ceilings, so there is no wastage in internal space. Neither is there redundancy in the use of materials; each member is strong enough to support its function. It is an honest expression of the structure that makes the building. Structure in this sense is the architecture of the space, which together with the light and the movement form the quality of the building.

The completed terminal is one of the world's more impressive buildings. Not only does it look good, but it is also passenger-friendly. The airport is continually evolving. There is so much reserved land on Chek Lap Kok Island that opportunity for future development is plentiful.

main contractor
BCJ Joint Venture

China State Construction Engineering Corporation/Kumagai Gumi (HK) Ltd/
Maeda Corporation/AMEC International Construction Ltd/Balfour Beatty Ltd


The Terminal Building
at The Airport at Chek Lap Kok

The construction of the superstructure of the airport terminal building as seen in February of 1996. The building structure of the terminal building is relatively simple: mainly 9m x 9m reinforced concrete frame with standard 1m-grid waffle floor. The most impressive part of the structure is the roof, which is created using a standard module of 36m x 36m x 5m vaulted steel frame.

The external view of the building in November of 1996. By that time the main structure of the terminal building had been completed, while the installation of the roof frame had just commenced. Basically, the arrangement of the roof installation started from the Entrance Hall of the terminal on the east, and worked its way westward.

A series of temporarily positioned roof frames on the north-western wing of the terminal building. At this stage, the roof frames were not stable enough to free-stand by themselves, so they needed to be tied and propped until all the stiffening members are finally installed.

Fabrication of the roof frame module at the fabricating yard on the north-western side of the terminal building. The curved frame (red in colour) was the base which supported and provided the form for the standard roof module. Workers were carrying out welding under each colourful sunshade.

The fabricating yard for the modulated roof frame could accommodate up to 10 modules a time, with a work cycle of about 25 days for each module. The covered structure seen in the back end of the row was a moveable workshop, which could slide to the required location on rail track. Anti-rusting treatment to the steel frame using sand-blasting was completed within the workshop.

The placing of a standard roof module onto the column supports. There are altogether 129 roof modules covering the entire terminal building. The majority of them were identical in size and shape, and each weigh about 120 tonnes.

The junction between two roof frames. Additional steel members would be erected at a later stage to tie and stiffen the roof structure to provide rigidity and continuity.

The mobile crane on the ground is delivering a steel member to the roof level for necessary installation.

Workers installing the corrugated sheet which formed the base support for the roof deck.

View from the building interior. Standard ceiling panels were laid directly on the underside of the roof to fill the triangular girds between the roof frame. In the ceiling centre, part of the skylight has already had the shading panels installed. Hanging in the middle of the shading panels is the access walkway for maintenance purposes to ceiling services.

The 1.28 km terminal building with the roof partly covered.

Close-up showing the preliminary fixed aluminium frame for the roof skylight before the laying of the 200 mm sound/thermal insulation layer.

The 500-tonne capacity crawler-mounted jib crane that used to lift the roof modules. A similar crane with 700-tonne capacity was working at the other end of the terminal building.

Workers using a telescopic platform to install a sealing strip as part of the trimming treatment for a flexible junction separating the roof structure and the curtain wall frame. This design is important because the curtain wall can vibrate due to aircraft noise. The flexible jointing arrangement will structurally detach the curtain wall from the roof, curbing undesirable vibration.

The awkwardly shaped glass panes at the top of the curtain wall near the projected eave were ripe for a tailor-made touch up at a later stage.

Close-up of the junction detail where the ceiling panels, the curtain wall and the circular reinforced concrete column meet.

A typical 36 m curtain wall facade, under a vaulted roof bay, provides weather exclusion.

The structural steel "fixed link bridge" stretching from the terminal building. 38 similar bridges in the new airport terminal can accommodate the latest wide-body aircraft.

At the tip end of the fixed link bridge, two retractable and self-manoeuvrable "air bridges" are provided. These extended bridge sections will be attached to the exit doors of aircraft to allow loading and unloading of passengers swiftly and conveniently.

Exterior view of the fixed link bridge. Window glazing will be installed later to allow vision and natural light to the interior of the bridge.

View from the inside of the fixed link bridge. The structural steel skeleton of the bridge is finished in enamel coated metal panel both inside and outside. The floor of the bridge is slightly ramped, so that it can serve both departure and arrival levels.

Terminal construction employed many specially designed scaffolding systems for the carrying out of necessary finishing works. The photo here shows a pair of 36 m span aluminium scaffolds that work on sliding action, and are used to erect the ceiling panels. On the right lower side the track rail for the scaffold can also be seen.

From the boarding lounge for the Automatic People Mover (APM) looking upward towards the departure and arrival levels. The row of sliding doors on the lower left side forms the screen doors for the APM vehicles. This safety design is a standard provision for all Airport Express stations.

Another interior view showing the erection of the retail shop kiosk. The kiosk was easy to install as the wall was constructed of lightweight concrete block and finished with metal cladding, while the roof was constructed of lightweight precast concrete panels.

View from the station platform showing the track and guide rail for the Automatic People Mover system. The system can provide quick transport for users from one end of the 1.2 km terminal building to the other end. Besides, it can also serve as a major passenger linking system between the existing (Phase I) terminal and the future extension of the Phase II terminal building, which will be located about one km to the west.

A view of the check-in counter island at the East Hall on the departure level. Passengers can arrive at the new airport conveniently from either the passenger unloading deck or from the Ground Transportation Centre, both located just outside the entrance doors in the background.

The terminal interior in its almost-finished state. The splendid interior space can be well perceived within the 36 m vaulted roof modules.

A service module unit during its installation. These service modules will house the air ducts and diffusers for the a/c system, hose reels for fire services and public communication systems.

The baggage reclaim unit. There are 12 identical units located in the East Hall of the arrival level inside the terminal building.

The construction of the structure, overall finishing and other related touch-up works for the Terminal Building and the Ground Transportation Centre at the peak before final completion.

Below the East Hall of the departure and arrival levels, a complicated, highly automatic baggage handling/sorting system consists of miles of conveyor belt leading to hundreds of drop points, as well as sophisticated sorting devices and bar-code-readers.

The construction of the passenger unloading deck outside the entrance of the terminal building. A complicated falsework system was used to construct the 450 m deck structure.

The main outside link to the airport terminal: the Ground Transportation Centre (GTC) and related passenger unloading facilities. On the right side of this photo is the terminal building with the passenger unloading deck still under construction. On the left is the GTC, basically completed. A series of linking bridges will be built afterward, connecting the two facilities together.

A close-up look at the falsework arrangement for the construction of the passenger unloading deck. The deck has two levels: The upper level is the unloading deck for vehicular access, while the lower level houses a series of travelators (passenger conveyors) which help passengers to move conveniently along the 320 m entrance way to the terminal building when they disembark from the Airport Express Line.

Paving for the apron area, comprising about 1.8 million sq m of concrete paved surface. Various paving methods, including manual and semi-automatic means, were used. The paving work depicted utilised a manual method using steel edging form to cast the apron area, bay by bay, to allow for necessary movement on the paved surface.

Between the Phase I terminal and the north-west concourse extension.

Storm water control influenced the design for large paved areas such as the apron area of the new airport. The concrete boxes seen in the photo are the precast sections for the storm water drain.

Under the runway and the taxiway, there is a network of subway and tunnel systems providing a means for safely crossing ground aircraft traffic. This photo shows the tunnel section linking the Phase I and future Phase II terminal buildings.

A panoramic view from the north-eastern corner of the airport terminal. The earthwork seen in the foreground is the substructure for the Regal Airport Hotel, which will be the largest hotel complex in Hong Kong when completed.

An immediate extension to the Phase I Terminal
Building: the north-west concourse extension.
Originally, a 5-module extension was planned
for the north-western corner of the terminal
building depending on the future air traffic
demand. However, due to rapid economic growth
in the mid 90's, the Government decided to
launch the extension work in early 1997. The
work shown in this photo is the carrying out of
the substructure work for the new extension.