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Heart Action: Tendril Design, Architectural Philosophy of Wang Zhenjun, Demostrated in Beijing Daxing International Airport


Some people say that architecture is the greatest creation of people. Then the architects are the creator of this great creation. With wisdom and imagination, the architects endow bricks, tiles, wood, and stones with spirituality, and use poetic combinations to give the building its own life and soul.

On September 25, 2019, Beijing Daxing International Airport officially put into operation. As a large international aviation hub that radiates the world, Daxing International Airport has completed its scheduled construction tasks in less than 5 years and has been successfully put into operation, fully demonstrating the strength of Chinese engineering construction. Among them, the architecture team of Wang Zhenjun fully demonstrated the enterprise culture of China Electronics Engineering Design Institute through excellent professional ability and literacy.



Wang  Zhenjun (first from left) talks with the builder



The Ultimate Requirements for Building Quality

In 2015, Beijing Daxing International Airport Terminal Project was openly tendered. "The top 30 design institutes in the country all participated in the bidding, and the competition is very fierce." Wang Zhenjun, chief architect of China Electronics Engineering Design Institute, said, "Our team successfully won the bid for 3 feasibility projects and 8 general contract projects of design. It’s an arduous job."

All bidding and selection of supporting projects for Daxing International Airport are back-to-back. After obtaining the bidding documents, Wang Zhenjun’s team can only present the design requirements of the client on the drawings by interpreting the documents. He proposed the concept of"Tendril Design, which is a three-dimensional design thinking covering full life-cycle from design to final presentation. In simple terms, the design is extensible, like tendril, it can extend to every corner and present every detail.

The airport’s information technology center and command center are the first Daxing International Airport project led by Wang Zhenjun. The project covers an information technology center, a communication hub center, an operation command center, and a big data center. A highly intelligent information system carries the core tasks of computing, storage, and information sharing among all systems, so as to achieve full-field communication with the outside. Wang Zhenjun vividly likened it to the strongest brain of a smart airport. If it doesn’t work, the entire airport would be paralyzed. At the mobilization meeting, Wang Zhenjun said: "It’s a rare opportunity for a designer to combine design with high-end technology in the whole professional career. We must cherish this opportunity."

After analysis, Wang Zhenjun believes that the strongest brain is a kind of technology integration, which is to integrate advanced equipment and the most cutting-edge technology into the building space to meet the functional requirements of deep perception, ubiquitous interconnection, and efficient collaboration. He led the team to collect information and launch research. After persistent discussion and revisions, Wang Zhenjun proposed the design concept of information chain. The airport information technology center and command center are two major departments, which are both divided and connected, and require collaboration. "Using a chain to connect these two departments means that people and information entering this chain could achieve command center through the operation inside". Wang Zhenjun said.



Beijing  Daxing International Airport Information Technology Center (ITC), Airport  Command Center (AOC) 


After winning the bid, Wang Zhenjun paid great attention to the project and proposed to visit some command centers. In the command center of Terminal 3 of Capital International Airport, Wang Zhenjun communicated with the staff on site about whether the current functions meet the needs, what other aspects can be improved, what new functions could be added from a business perspective. These were all questions that Wang Zhenjun cared about. Although Party A had approved the submitted design plan, Wang Zhenjun still communicated with Party A to optimize the plan. His ingenuity was highly recognized by the client.

In the Wang Zhenjun’s office, various models and sketches designed by Wang’s team were piled up. The high requirements of Daxing International Airport determined that each project would be revised from conception to implementation. Wang Zhenjun laughed, " This room was the busiest place, most of the modifications and designs were discussed here." While encouraging the team to innovate boldly, he often reminded young architects: Are you satisfied with your own design?

  • Relentless Pursuit of the Architecture Essence

From the north of the terminal, you can easily spot the airport living center from the airport highway. At the beginning of the design, how to create a comfortable community for the airport staff was a question that Wang Zhenjun thought about a lot.



Beijing Daxing International Airport Residential  Facilities


More than 30 years of professional experience has made Wang Zhenjun bear a unique philosophical thinking on architecture, that is, the relentless pursuit of the architecture essence. What kind of building is a good construction? Wang Zhenjun believes that the construction’s outside and inside should be unified, which is the essence of architecture.

"For new projects, we must immerse in the site and look for the natural condition." Wang Zhenjun took the team to investigate the environment around the living center, observe these clues from the nature, and analyze the relationship between rivers, villages, and plants. That allows the building to be in harmony with nature, and be organically constructed to achieve the nature of the Taoism, which is also the original intention of the tendril design.

"No room is north-facing and ensure every room be full of sunshine." Wang Zhenjun put forward the basic idea in the design of the dormitory building. The north-facing rooms have poor lighting. Wang Zhenjun and many members of the team deeply comprehend the significance of sunshine in the building design. Through considerate design, none of the 576 rooms in the dormitory building is north-facing. Through the adjustment of the windows and the position of the room, sunshine dorm is realized. In order to reduce direct sunlight from the east and west, Wang Zhenjun designed the room to adjuct 15 degrees or 25 degrees. Each window is designed with a large window cover to avoid direct sunlight. More than 10 solutions have been studied for the window cover alone.

In addition to abandoning the traditional layout of the dormitory, the airport living center adopted the layout of the courtyard. "At the airport, all buildings are flat, especially in autumn and winter, the wind is relatively strong." Wang Zhenjun explained that through this courtyard design, the wind can be effectively reduced, which is more suitable for residence. In the courtyard, restaurants, supermarkets, cafes, banks, and various service facilities are in readiness, providing employees with high-quality living space.

In order to let the airport staff get in touch with nature and improve their physical fitness, Wang Zhenjun and his team designed a unique "slow walk" system. At the living center, the staff can take a walk in the public area, walk up the roof unconsciously through the gentle slope sidewalk, and enjoy the new landscape. In addition to large-scale greening on the roof, there are nearly 400 meters of jogging track, and a large number of sports facilities are set up for employees.

These innovations contain Wang Zhenjun’s deep understanding and accumulation of the essence of architecture over the years. It is his thought on the essential relationship between people and architecture-architecture is ultimately to serve people, and people-oriented is indeed more than just a slogan.

Passion for Architecture

The distance from the construction site of Daxing International Airport to the Design Institute is more than 100 kilometers, and sometimes the design team returned from the construction site at more than 10 pm. Although tired, Wang Zhenjun was very pleased to see many young people talking about technical issues and relishing it. "Our team’s pursuit and love for professionalism have left a deep impression on me, and I am very much touched." Wang Zhenjun said, "This is the life of architect".

Sun Chengwei, Director of Operations, regards Wang Zhenjun is a passionate designer. "Many leaders at Wang’s level haven’t drawn their own design for a long time. But Wang still insists on creating, and he actually enjoys it." In the Daxing International Airport project, Wang Zhenjun even arranged the parking spaces in the basement. In a limited space, how to settle more parking spaces and ensure smooth driving routes are a test of design skills.

In the past 30 years, Wang Zhenjun has always stayed at the front-line. He participates every step of the building process, from the design concept, to the on-site inspection, to the drafting of drawings. Nowadays, Wang Zhenjun has already become a master in the field of architectural design. Wang Zhenjun’s designs have unique identification, and many buildings have become local landmark, such as Saudi Arabia Pavilion in Shanghai World Expo, Beijing Chongwenmen "New World" shopping mall, Pudong Software Park, Beijing CBD International Finance Center (IFC), new tower of Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport, and Central Academy of Fine Arts Yanjiao Campus teaching building.

Wang Zhenjun believes that the real outstanding architects can only maintain inspiration and design innovative works through continuous accumulation, practice, and thinking, and absorb various design information. He has been paying attention to the cutting-edge developments of architectural design at home and abroad, often collecting and sorting out related concept, summarizing and discussing with his colleagues.



Wang  Zhenjun inspects the project site with his colleagues


The staff remembered the time when Wang Zhenjun led a team to Nanjing for an inspection. After many days of visiting, everyone was exhausted and eager to return. During the time waiting for the train, Wang Zhenjun suggested going around to see the constructions. "Appreciating and analyzing architecture is just like an entertainment for him." the employee said.

In October 2019, China Electronics Engineering Design Institute received a thank-you letter from Beijing New Airport Construction Headquarters and Beijing New Airport Management Center for the work done by China Electronics Engineering Design Institute. After the project was completed, Wang Zhenjun went to the site many times. Wang Zhenjun said: "Architectural design is like an exam, expressed in a limited time as required. If there is no time limit, it can be optimized."

Wang Zhenjun’s tendril design implies two dimensions: first, discovering the natural force and deep structure of the site to construct an organic building in the sense of architectureThen spread this idea to the whole process of architectural design. In the rich practical opportunities of the information age, he and his team are diligently pursuing their architectural dreams.



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