Chek Lap Kok Airport was made to replace the former Airport that was built way before in 1925 and cater to the growing traffic in the air. The passenger and cargo capacities were expanding, and there was noise pollution affecting the populations nearby. Today, the Hong Kong International Airport is among the busiest in the world, carrying about 50 million passengers and handling about 4 million tons of cargo every year. The construction of the airport was not an easy task, and there were many challenges. Airports are very expensive to build, and it is even more complex to run its operations. The innovative technologies, as well as the rising threat of terrorism, is influencing the way the airports get made today. As the airports are usually built outside a city, they have to be self-sufficient.
Chek Lap Kok Airport in Hong Kong is known among the foremost mega construction plans of the last decade. It is one of the most excellent airports of the world. It was completed in 1998 and by 2040, it is expected to handle eighty million passengers every year. It is considered to be one of the most ambitious construction projects of modern times as the land on which it has been developed is mountainous. Moreover, the island was extended to four times its original size.
Hong Kong's new airport cost about HK $70.7 billion or US$9.1 billion to make. It was built to replace the heavily congested Kai Tak downtown facility and carries a design capacity of 35 million as well as 3 million tons of air cargo annually. It is known to carry some of the most advanced airport facilities in the world. This study reports an in-depth survey of how and why the airport was made as well as the contractors involved in the mega construction project. A vast number of collaborative ventures were established on an international level for constructing the Chek Lap Kok Airport in Hong Kong (Hong Kong to Open in July).
Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok replaced the old Kai Tak Airport. It opened in 1998 and is located at Lantau Island. It runs under the operation of the Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) that is completely by the government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government. HKIA services include baggage handling, security, operation of shuttle trains, etc. In order to recoup the enormous investment in HKIA, the idea of privatization has been put forth (Yan).
Situated in Northern Lantau, the new HKIA is surrounded by high hills and peaks. Taj Mo Shan, the highest mountain in Hong Kong at the height of 3200 feet lies to the northeast of the HKIA. Because of the terrain, the arrival and departure procedures of the new airport have been designed accordingly. The latest international standards have been adopted to enforce an adequate distance between mountains for the sake of safety (Kenneth). The airport can be reached from Hong Kong via mainland road or rail links. Those who arrive by train reach the Ground Transportation Centre at the airport', and it is completely integrated at the eastern end of the terminal building. The journey between city and airport will take only twenty minutes.Culture
The Far East is looked at as a land for the great opportunity and privatization as the governments in these regions look forward to improving their airport infrastructure. Thu, it is no surprise to see a rush in of many projects related to multi-billion dollar airports. New airports such as ChepLap Kok in Hong Kong, Inchon in Korea and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia have grabbed headlines (Airports of the Far East). The relationship between Great Britain and China took a new turn with Hong Kong's return to China. One of the capstone of that relationship remains Hong Kong's mammoth programs to build a new airport that is well connected by the road and rail links. Chek Lap Kok Airport is designed to remember the British colony's status as the gateway to China (Kosowatz). Hong Kong enjoys a wider economy and has become a major hub for the international and regional aviation.
The new Hong Kong International Airport (HKJA) was built to deal with the increasing numbers of passengers and air traffic. Hong Kong’s air cargo has been experiencing regular rise over the years. It was about 3.1 million tons in 2004, and this is almost 17% growth over 2003. The increases are attributed to the stronger demands from the US, Europe, and the Mainland as Yan (2005) states. There is the risk for the Hong Kong International Airport in being highly dependent on the single route linking to HKIA. There was a need to develop alternative access and Chek Lap Kok-Tuen Mun Link that would join the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Western Corridor so as to meet the increasing transport demand.
The new airport was replaced the old Kai Tak Airport that had been serving since 1925. The Airport is designed with dual runways, the north runway, and the south runway. In the beginning, there was the only south runway, and it was only in 1999 that the north runway became functional (Kenneth). The new airport has been specially designed to raise the flexibility of airlines and boost the capacity. Moreover, the number of passengers is anticipated to rise in the future.
The airport also works on lowering the level of noise pollution suffer by residential areas. Hong Kong residents who lived in Kowloon City have always complained of the serious noise problem because of the old Kai Tak Airport.Ever since the opening of the new airport in 1998, residents living under the flight paths are still complaining about the aircraft noise, especially from Tsing Lung Tau and Ting Kau residents as Kenneth (2000) reports. When the north runway began its operation, there were 19 complaints in one day from residents in Tsuen Wan. Leaflets were issued to the residents so as to get different opinions from the community and give a voice to the concern.
Chek Lap Kok island was mostly reclaimed land and the new terminal fitted out at Chek Lap Kok island became the new focus. Airport Authority, Hong Kong officials, justified the size because of their freight projections and that Chek Lap Kok is sure to become the busiest airport soon. It was all set to replace the obsolete single runway of the congested Kowloon's Kai Tak Airport. It was a challenge to build the major airport in just six years.
Ove Arup and Partners Director Martin Manning provided the engineering behind the terminal building’s vaulted roof. The project took a good start, but the rail links delayed the major contracts. Finally, the financial details were evened out by Great Britain and China. The contractors were forced to work at a greater speed and in tighter schedules. Their aim was to time the completion with the handover to China (Kosowatz).
Vaulted roof of the airport
The construction of an airport is a colossal takes and competes for land and resources. The islands were totally recreated for the Chek Lap Kok Airport and about 307Mm3 of material was moved for the airport. This project was one of the biggest earth-moving operations ever undertaken. Originally, the area of the island was only 302 ha and another 938 ha were added and the shoreline shifted 5 km further west (Douglas et al., 2003).
The terminal building is based on a concept that was initiated at Stansted Airport. Most airport planners worldwide have used this model. The model incorporates a lightweight roof, use of natural lighting and keep free of service installations. The technical facilities for baggage handling, environmental services, and transportation is encouraged under this model. Chek Lap Kok airport, with its soaring spaces, is always bathed in daylight. The terminal building makes a spectacular gateway to the city. Routes are simple, legible and can be easily followed, whether one is arriving or departing. One can see the aircraft and is aware of the land on one side and the water on the other. Thus, orientation is simple for the passengers here. They can use the vaulted roof as a constant reference point. The East Hall welcomes the departing passengers and is the largest airport retail space in the world.
What added to the problems was the remote site of the island. The material and the workers had to bring to the site to Lantau Island by boat. About 19,000 workers were now working on Chek Lap Kok and other airport-related projects. Lantau Fixed Link today offers a much easier land access for some contractors.The terminal building is based on a concept that was initiated at Stansted Airport. Most airport planners worldwide have used this model. The model incorporates a lightweight roof, use of natural lighting and keep free of service installations. The technical equipment for baggage handling, environmental services, and transit is encouraged under this model. View from inside Chek Lap Kok airport
Chek Lap Kok airport, with its soaring spaces, is always bathed in daylight. The terminal building makes a spectacular gateway to the city. Routes are simple, legible and can be easily followed, whether one is arriving or departing. One can see the aircraft and is aware of the land on one side and the water on the other. Thus, orientation is simple for the passengers here. They can use the vaulted roof as a constant reference point. The East Hall welcomes the departing passengers and is the largest airport retail space in the world.
The northwest extension added 34,000 m2 floor space to the passenger terminal, thus making it to a 550,000 m2. There were additional ten gates to the 38 and more parking bays. The structural works to the extension were completed by 1998 (Hong Kong to Open in July). Construction of the northern runway and taxiways will enhance the runway capacity at the new airport and increased the aircraft movements of 38 aircraft per hour to 50 movements. The aviation and tourism industries have benefited from the construction of the northern runway as added to the capacity and efficiencies of the airport.
The northeast flight path flying over Shatin and Kwai Chung is direct and safe. As for the Southwest flight path, there are lesser problems encountered as the aircraft flies over the water, and there are no hurdles in any circumstances. The position of the two runways are at the direction 073° (NE) and 253° (SW). These runways are labeled as Runway 07 and Runway 25 respectively. The north runway comprises of 07L and 25R while the south runway is known as 07R and 25L (Kenneth).
Material and Design
BCJ won the contract, and its five members were Kumagai Gumi (HK) Ltd., China State Construction Engineering Corp, Maeda Corp, Balfour Beatty Ltd. and Amec International Construction. The main challenge was to compete 350,000 cu m of concrete in the high architectural finish within a time frame of 16 months. The difficult ground conditions and record rainfall in 1994 only made the task more difficult. The money was withdrawn from the reserve fund so as to remain within the budget of $6.38-billion estimate. It was taxing to lift the large amount of walls and slabs for the seven levels. The crews had to work fast because of the quick-setting concrete (Kosowatz). What added to the problems was the remote site of the island. The material and the workers had to bring to the site to Lantau Island by boat. About 19,000 workers were now working on Chek Lap Kok and other airport-related projects. Lantau Fixed Link today offers a much easier land access for some contractors.
Five British, Chinese and Japanese firms worked on the construction and employed more than 1,600 workers at peak to complete the project in just over three years. More than21, 000 tons of steel and 350,000 cu meters of concrete was used to build the structure together. Another 2,400 tons of tubular steel was used to support the wall cladding and glazing. The centerpiece of the airport lies in its terminal with 39 gates. These were capable of handling Boeing 747, the world's largest passenger aircraft. The building's 490,000-sq-meter concourse and a gate had the entry from the 700-m-wide entrance of the gates. Most of the remote areas of the gate split like a swallow's tail. The lightweight steel lattice roof is covered the with a fabric membrane that is based on interlinked diagonal universal beams. The membrane can dip and roll along the width of the building that covers an area of157,000 sq.m.(Kosowatz).
Because of the open plans, the designers were forced to deal with high winds. They connected the roof modules to the walls' mullions with the help of customized cast steel gaskets. This allowed the walls and roof to move vertically and horizontally. According to Grant Brooker, director of architect Foster Asia Ltd, this was an extremely challenging task and one of the most complex they had taken as well as the largest (Kosowatz).
The building has eight levels and the automated people mover is on the first level. On the second level, lies the 320 x 160-m baggage hall, while the remaining six levels house the arrivals and departures, large retail complex, thus offering unobstructed views throughout the terminal and outside. There are skylights fitted into the 129 roof with the glass walls to let in natural lighting that gets reflected upward from metal panels and then gets diffused throughout the building.
A master plan known as a series of connected buildings that was adjusted to offer a clarity of vision with lots of open space and natural light was made. The whole structure was supposed to be one building as it would be easier to get it completed within the tighter deadline. There would be lesser chances of any leaking joints in one single structure. X-Steel, a sophisticated computer package was used to create fabrication drawings for each of those components and their connections. There was no new technology used in all of the core components. The 24 mt tall glass walls are reinforced by mullions and in order to stiffen the mullions, they were joined with welded struts to bow-shape steel tubes. In order to make for higher flexibility, the angles at the top of the mullions were different everywhere. Although the proven, conventional system was used for baggage handling systems, what posed a problem was a generation of baggage handling systems was the huge size of the airport (Kosowatz).
The energy consumption was another problem as the terminal still required a 70 Mw of electricity although it was designed to be as energy efficient as possible. During winters, the central chiller plant had to be maintained at 20C and 24C in summers. Air stratification system pumps the air through the 3-ft-tall binnacles and moves through ductwork that is placed at the second level ceiling. The building has built-in with sprinklers (Kosowatz).
If it was Built Today
Recent technologies and innovations have led to several advances to airport constructions. The most innovative solution providers are already talking about the next generation of technologies that will play an important role in designing of airports and provide a better experience to the passengers. There is no denying that Chek Lap Kok airport made an impression on the world when it was constructed. The new airport was built to deal with the increasing numbers of passengers and air traffic. It took almost six years to get built and consumed US$20 billion.
The faster pace of urbanization and globalization continues to impact the world today. With the ever rising mobility of people and goods, the airports today have to face new challenges and meet the demands of the escalating passenger and cargo traffic. Chek Lap Kok Airport is well designed to meet the demands of the air traffic. However, the growth has been faster than anticipated. In addition to meet these demands, there is a growing challenge to ensure complete safety and security of passengers, staff, and the airport. Terrorism had not raised its ugly head back then in the 1990s. The airports of today face numerous security threat, and only advanced 24-hour supervision of the complete airport can lower the risks of theft, unauthorized entry, and terrorism.
After almost six years of construction and US$20 billion in building costs, the airport opened on July 4, 1998. Today, engineers, architects, and builders make extensive use of computers and advanced software to design their projects. 3D print technology is already here and being used on the large scale to model on a small scale to bigger level projects. The airport if build today would definitely implement technologies such as facial recognition technology and an improved baggage handling system that can add to the experience of the fliers, saving both the airport authorities and the passengers their valuable time. The main concerns of the airports today are to remain attractive, in the highly competitive markets and buy passenger loyalty. This is possible only if the airports can fulfill the expectations of the customers by minimizing waiting times and use intelligent solutions to provide faster and convenient services, while managing capacity and costs at the same time. The game-changing technologies can definitely encourage new ideas and features for the airports of today.
Today, airports are working on how to reduce their carbon footprint. Global warming and dwindling natural resources are making a lot many airports embrace environmentally friendly initiatives. The energy consumption of Chek Lap Kok Airport has always been a major concern for the builders and engineers. If it were built today, the airport would have implemented green measures to save on energy costs. This would lower the building's energy needs as well as send good message among the community and its travelers.
Landings and take-offs emit thousands of tons of toxic emissions in the area. The airports today are looking for esthetically pleasing structures that are energy efficient too. The standard environmental practices followed at many airports are making use of lower-wattage bulbs, on-site fuelling stations, and using recycled building materials. However, if the Hong Kong airport were built today, it would have incorporated the experimental and innovative green projects. Many airports have installed solar panels to lower their energy bills. Recycling cooking oil is being reused as biodiesel fuel. Locally manufactured materials are being used to make the building. Large and airy glass walls can be installed to lower the demand of lighting and heating. The roof can be coated in white to reflect the sunlight.
Already there are forums on using 3D Printing to make airport buildings. The advantage of 3D Printing is that one can get the results in white or black or in full color. One can design bespoke airports and can help the qualified architects to improve the design and make the adjustments at the early stages. One can create an airport to any scale and with the correct blueprints and photos.
Chek Lap Kok Airport must prepare itself for the next generation of very large jets. It has to minimize walking distances while increasing the frontage for aircraft. It is about creating a good experience for all, whether it is the staff working at the airport or people who are flying. Millions of people fly every day and spend a considerable time at the airports. Today, airport builders can look in the history and learn for the mistakes made in the past and implement the latest technologies to create a far superior building structures for the airports.
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