Major contracts have been let for Asia’s largest integrated underground transportation hub spread across a 1.3-million-sq-m site in Beijing.

A consortium led by state-owned China Construction First Group Corp. Ltd. this fall won the construction bid for the city's Sub-Center Station Comprehensive Transportation Hub, with a total value of $6.4 billion.

AREP, a multi-disciplinary consultant owned by French railway operator SNCF,  is one of the designers, along with the Beijing General Municipal Engineering Design and Research Institute, China Railway Design Corp., and China Architecture Design Group. 

The state-owned project owner is the Beijing–Tianjin–Hebei Intercity Railway Investment Co.

Prep work has been underway since late 2019. The plan is to connect neighboring provinces of Hebei and Tianjin with the Chinese capital in different phases, with completion in 2024. The project will build facilities for two high-speed trains, three subway stations and roads for buses and cars.

The 70 hectares of underground space is being created by excavating 13 million sq m of earth, according to the Beijing city government. The land, which is part of the Yangtuo village area, will be developed into a business district modeled along the lines of London’s Canary Wharf and La Défense in Paris.

Planners used studies of La Défense, and of Shanghai’s Hongqiao Hub and Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Station, to assess environmental issues. The Beijing hub's top floor, B2, to consist of passenger waiting rooms, will receive direct natural light, have vegetation and allow for some rain during monsoon season. 

The middle floor, B1, will be the arrivals area, while the ground floor will have shopping facilities and merge with the urban landscape outside the hub.

"We cannot separate the ecology from the quality of people's lives," said Luc Neouze, the general manager and architect at AREP, in government media. 

The transport-oriented development will support movement of 450,000 passengers per day and connect the capital city in only 15 minutes with its two airports and the planned new capital in Xiongan, currently one hour away. The hub also will connect with Universal Studios, expected to be Asia’s biggest amusement facility. 

Passengers will not need to wait more than five minutes to transfer from one mode of transport to another because the facilities will be dotted with elevators and other modes. Facilities will include subway stations for Pinggu Line, Line 6 and M101 in Tonghue.

The design will enable underground facilities to be almost invisible and unheard in the urban spaces above, aside from large glazed areas meant to allow daylight into all three levels.