CHEK LAP KOK AIRPORT, HONG KONG 1991 - 1998
Design Consortium: Mott Connell, Foster
Associates and BAA
Other key players in design: Ove Arup, WT
Partnership and O'Brien Kreitsberg
Contractor Consortium: BCJ JV (British Chinese
Japanese; Kumagai Gumi, China State/Amec,Balfour Beatty, Maeda Corp
led by UK contractors AMEC and Balfour Beatty)
Matieral Supplied: Nufins CHEMCURE R90 Aluminised
Spray-Applied Concrete Curing Membrane
Why a new airport was
The spectacular final approach to Kai Tak Airport in Kowloon was
famous; there were 6 storey buildings at the northern end of the
single runway and the other three sides were surrounded by Victoria
Harbour, leaving no room to increase passenger or cargo business.
Hong Kong had been a British colony since the 19th
Century Opium Wars. The territory would be returned to People's
Republic of China on 30th June 1997 after a 99 year
lease. The project commenced in September 1991.
The biggest civil engineering project in
Engineers had to build a whole new island for the airport, along
with 34km of tunnels, bridges and roadways to connect it to the
mainland. Hong Kong International Airport was actually two
mountainous islands when the construction began; the mountains were
pulverised and flattened and the rock was recycled to fill 1.5
miles of sea to connect Chek Lap Kok and Lam Chau. The
project was one of the largest earth-moving and dredging operations
ever undertaken in such a short time. About 347million m3 of
material was moved during the contract; about 40,000m3 of rock,
soil, mud and marine sand was moved every day - 280m3 every minute,
or 10 tons a second!
1) A new tunnel under Victoria Harbour; concrete and steel
sections, each weighing 32,000 tonnes (the weight of an ocean
liner), were built 15km away from site and then floated out to the
harbour and assembled underwater; while being laid they were capped
with water tight seals. This 2km tunnel carries a 6 lane highway,
15m under the seabed.
2) The "Tsing Ma Bridge; one major 5km water crossing was too
deep and too risky for another tunnel. Instead a massive bridge was
built with 700 feet high towers to accommodate cargo ships and
liners. It was built in 5 years to withstand 200mph destructive
typhoon winds and became the world's largest road/rail Double
Decker Suspension bridge.
3) Connecting the new tunnel and bridge; the 15km 'Que Chuing
Expressway' was built to connect the tunnel with the bridge and the
12km 'North Lantau Tower Expressway' connected the bridge from
airport. This involved some extreme civil engineering, by
land-formation extending 1km from the shore.
4) Subway railway to airport; designed for the rapid movement of
millions of passengers, 20 hectares of land-formation were created
in Victoria Harbour to accommodate the new railway station.
5) The world's largest passenger terminal; construction was
started just two years before the cmpletion date of project. It was
to become he largest enclosed space in the world and the 'crown
jewel' of the entire poject, with 70 moving walkways (some 2.5km),
a pilotless electric train, 150 shops and a 1100-room hotel.
6) The fully automated air cargo terminal was designed to handle
the huge quantity of containers.
The USD$20 billion airport opened on time on 6 July 1998 and
covers 12.48km² of reclaimed land which increased the land area of
Hong Kong by 1%.
A two-meter-thick finishing layer of crushed granite aggregate
and sea sand was spread over the island's surface. A special
geotechnical fabric (7 million m2 of it), separates this 2m
drainage layer from the much coarser land fill substratum. A 13km
long seawall surrounds the levelled airport island, some 3 - 5m
above sea-level. Great blocks of granite weighing 1 - 5 tons each
forms the protective seawall; they were blasted out of the island's
rock to specification, and fashioned to interlock tightly in order
to dissipate the wave action of the sea.
For two years, great detonations shook Chek Lap Kok and Lam Chau
islands daily between 11.30am and 6pm. The shot-holes drilled by
the mining engineers have a total length of 2,700km using 40,000
tons of explosive.
Additional landfill was obtained from the approach roads under
construction and by levelling a couple of nearby islands - The
Brothers - and since these two islands were in direct line of
approach to the runways, they became flight-radar stations.
The workforce of around 21,000 came from 30 countries.