Sea and Spray at Qingdao's Cruise Terminal

The architecture is inspired by the sailboats of the Yellow Sea port.
2 August, 2017
Visitors to the Number 6 pier in the busy Chinese port city of Qingdao first see the angular roof of the international cruise passenger center.
The cruise terminal is inspired by the pitched roofs common in the city, but with a nautical twist. The 60,000-square-meter terminal appears as a series of vertical triangles with their apices touching the earth where it meets the sea, then stretching along the roof of its 27-meter height.

CCDI International, along with Mozhao Studio & Jing Studio designed the building as a centerpiece of a waterfront project to establish a recreational area with gardens, cultural exhibits and viewing decks. The terminal itself has a first-floor hall for arrivals and departures, along with check-in and baggage service.
Image: ArchDaily
Above them is a foyer for travelers waiting to embark, along with a customs hall and customer service. The third and final story is the public platform, with its exceptional views of both sea and city skyline.

From the outside, the cruise terminal walls and connecting elevated walking bridge appear made of glass. The architects chose to build Qingdao's terminal on a steel frame without using exterior curtain wall, so that the views of sea and sky remain as uninterrupted as possible. The plans allowed for the building to be pillar-free, while creating an expansive two-story space inside. At night, the brightly lit building is like a lantern or lighthouse that uses the entire building to illuminate the outdoor plaza.
Image: Archdaily
During the day, the light on the inside of the building is filtered by aluminium grates installed inside the wedges of the triangles. The panels allow abundant natural light to fill the interior, while at the same time allowing for shade to keep it cooler. The visual interest of light and shadow is continued above them in the slats of the ceiling.

That similar approach was taken with the angled facets on the interior, where sunny skylights are spaced between aluminium panels folded in keeping with the architectural geometry. It's a design decision that is part of the architect's overall plan to keep the elegantly industrial structure visible to both passengers and passers-by, as part of the tourism and travel experience itself.

There's another purpose to the roof design, and that's for coping with rainwater. The aluminium and glass form stepped ramps on the inclined surface of the roof to enhance water containment capacity. It's one of many climate-sensitive features built into the facility, including the use of sea water to power the heat pump and air conditioning systems. The terminal also benefits from bioclimatic considerations.
Images: ArchDaily
For example, the city's prevailing winter winds arrive from the northwest, while the better landscape conditions are on the south side of the terminal. So the architects built a terrace that moves from beneath the building's frame toward the south to become a public platform. Along with other viewing spaces – including one facing north on the third floor – the building creates decks similar to those on the boats that surround it. These include the cruise ships and sailboats, but also a yacht rental operation.

The architects describe the viewing decks as "the city's living room in Qingdao," emphasizing the degree to which a terminal for cruise and passenger ferry service is just part of the overall recreational vision.
Banner image: ArchDaily