The three fundamentals of airport planning are technology, processes, and user experiences. They also form the basis for building permanent solutions and enabling continuous development in the planning of Helsinki Airport’s expansion.
'Architects usually begin their work from the functions and technical requirements of the site. Architectural features are then developed as the work proceeds', explains the main designer of the Helsinki Airport terminal extension, architect Tuomas Silvennoinen fromPES-Arkkitehdit Oy.
Terminal design is based on processes and on understanding them properly. How can we ensure smooth transfer traffic? What is the route passengers take, from arriving to the airport to boarding an aeroplane and the other way around?
'Smooth traffic and clear routes are no longer sufficient to make an airport competitive. The route also needs to be pleasant, offer unique services and provide memorable experiences'.
Airports are never finished
The need to be ready for continuous changes adds its own peculiar challenge to airport design. Airports are never completely finished.
'The processes, services, technical possibilities and ideas continue to evolve, and changes may be needed already in a year or two', Silvennoinen says.
'In addition to continuous change, permanence is an important concept in our design work. We must define which elements of buildings such as terminals are fixed and permanent, and which ones vary'.
For the permanent elements, Silvennoinen applies the so-called 'from here to eternity' principle, which he believes should apply to all buildings.
'After all, you couldn't imagine buildings like Helsinki Central Railway Station being designed for temporary use'.
A pleasant walk for passengers
The expansion project at Helsinki Airport will inevitably lengthen the distances within the building a little, but the architect promises to ensure a nice and pleasant route for passengers.
'After the completion of the project, passengers will still enter the building from a door and then follow clear signs that guide them to the right gate while passing a variety of excellent services on the way.
The expansion project team has plenty of issues to figure out. Silvennoinen, who has worked with the Helsinki Airport project for some twenty years, describes this team as unique.
'We have a great team spirit and we're all enthusiastic about this project'.