Helsinki Airport, expansion of Non-Schengen and long-haul flight area

Vantaa, Finland

Aerial view ©2016 Douglas Triana
Aerial view ©2016 Douglas Triana

Helsinki Airport is Finland’s main airport and Northern Europe’s leading long-haul airport. Serving some 20 million passengers a year, the airport has repeatedly been ranked by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as best in the world or among the top airports in its size category.

Helsinki Airport, expansion of Non-Schengen and long-haul flight area ©2017 Kari Palsila
Helsinki Airport, expansion of Non-Schengen and long-haul flight area ©2017 Kari Palsila

PES-Architects has been involved in Helsinki Airport expansion projects for several decades, starting with a preliminary study for the new European terminal in 1987, followed by the completion of a new flight control tower, waiting areas and commercial and hotel facilities in 1996 and the T2 new international terminal in 1999.

Expansion of Non-Schengen and long-haul flight area

Expansion of Non-Schengen area ©2019 Kari Palsila
Expansion of Non-Schengen area ©2019 Kari Palsila

From 2015 to 2021, PES-Architects has been working on the most extensive development programme in the history of Helsinki Airport to accommodate the growing volume of air traffic between Europe and Asia, mainly China, for which Helsinki serves as an important transit hub. The approximately 75,000 m2 expansion, completed in several phases, connects seamlessly to the existing Non-Schengen terminal.

The extension includes two new wings with gates and double boarding bridges for wide-body aircraft, South Pier (2017) and West Pier (2019), and a core service area, Aukio, (2019). The new terminal area gives arriving and transit passengers their first or even only impression of Finland: advanced technology and an experience of Finnish nature and design.

Expansion of Non-Schengen area ©2019 Kari Palsila
Expansion of Non-Schengen area ©2019 Kari Palsila
South pier rocking chairs ©2021 Kari Palsila
South pier rocking chairs ©2021 Kari Palsila

The expansion features 9-metre-high glass facades to allow abundant daylight, supported by massive prefabricated steel braces. Arriving and departing passenger flows are guided onto separate levels, with glazed walls to aid wayfinding and enhance safety.

Glass facades ©2021 Kari Palsila
Glass facades ©2021 Kari Palsila
Passenger flow guidance ©2019 Kari Palsila
Passenger flow guidance ©2019 Kari Palsila

Wood is used extensively on surfaces and in custom-designed furniture and fixtures to soften the glass and steel structures and introduce a Nordic flavour. Additional furnishing chosen for the terminal include modern Finnish classics and contemporary design. The elements of Finnish nature in materials and images are designed to appeal to Asian travellers in particular, while new comfort features include moving walkways and hot and cold water dispensers.

The functional and architectural heart of the extension is the Aukio area at the intersection of the West Pier and South Pier, with state-of-the-art security control and a wide range of commercial, restaurant and other passenger services.

The highlight of the Aukio area is the double-height central plaza, designed as an oasis of calm and refreshment for weary travellers. The triangular space is encircled by a 75-metre-long and 2-metre-high undulating LED screen displaying a changing Finnish landscape. The 360° display, nature soundscape and interactive wall projections acquaint visitors with Finnish nature and its four seasons in an immersive experience. The birch-panelled walls act as an interactive touch screen, where visitors can draw works of art with snowflakes, northern lights and autumn leaves.

Aukio plaza panorama winter ©2021 Finavia
Aukio plaza panorama winter ©2021 Finavia

The installation is a collaborative effort by OiOi Collective with Granlund Oy, based on a concept by Davidsson Tarkela Architects and Rune & Berg Design Oy.

Aukio plaza panorama autumn ©2019 Finavia
Aukio plaza panorama autumn ©2019 Finavia

The Aukio plaza also functions as an adaptable event area, where the wood and leather-clad seating islands designed by PES-Architects can be disassembled to make room for performances or exhibitions.

Wood and leather-clad seating ©2021 Kari Palsila
Wood and leather-clad seating ©2021 Kari Palsila
Wood and leather-clad seating ©2019 Kari Palsila
Wood and leather-clad seating ©2019 Kari Palsila

In the hustle and bustle of the airport, is important for the architecture to be clear, sustainable and consistent. Architectural design should integrate the ever-changing commercial structures into a cohesive whole and create a calm visual environment for passengers. The combination of function-driven rationality and a human-centric and user-focused approach could be called “rational poetry.”

Project information

ClientFinavia
LocationVantaa, Finland
Time2015-2021
Areaapprox. 75,000 ㎡
Architectural and interior designPES-Architects
Chief designerTuomas Silvennoinen
PhotographyKari Palsila, Finavia

Editing : @Ibo, ©️FULLDES authorized publishing, copyright from the Author, Image copyright from the photographer or Company

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