Beijing Capital International Airport’s Terminal 3 has opened.

The world’s largest building, designed by Foster + Partners, was commissioned and built in just over four years at a cost of US$3.8bn.

It has a roof area of over 80 acres and measures 800m across at its widest point.

With 1.3 million square metres of floor space, it is the first building to break the one million square metre mark.

Terminal 3 will accommodate 43 million passengers a year (53 million by 2015) and provides 66 aerobridges, bringing the total number of gates at the airport to 120.

It will help cater for the enormous influx of foreign visitors expected for the 2008 Olympics in August.

The terminal has been designed to maximise natural daylight.

The roof design has an uneven ‘scaled’ surface to minimise energy loss in the winter and maximise cooling in summer.

Terminal 3’s dragon-like form, gold roof and striking interior palette of red, orange and yellow accentuate its Chinese characteristics.

By Louis Makiello