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Architect of Helsinki Airport expansion: Airport design is poetic rationalism

21.5.2016 at 06:00
We asked Tuomas Silvennoinen, chief architect of the terminal expansion, what guides his work, and we received an answer that was both beautiful and rather surprising.

He says that like all important buildings, the terminal has a soul. The soul is created from the structures and materials, and human activity and appreciation towards the building.

“Basically, the terminal is a machine. A rational device with a task and purpose. However, an atmosphere of leaving and returning is related to airports. It consists of powerful feelings that only occur at airports: waiting for the trip, memories, joy and tiredness, early departures and late returns. This could be called poetic rationalism, for example”, says Silvennoinen.

The basic mission of architecture is to implement public facilities that are of a high quality, sustainable and safe. Regarding airports, all design is also always based on making travelling as fluid and efficient as possible.

It is equally important to provide passengers with excellent customer experiences. It is especially important for transit airports to offer pleasant experiences to customers so that they will pass through Helsinki again and again.

The goal of design is to highlight Finnish know-how and architecture. Using lots of glass and wood bring light and a natural look in passenger facilities.

The building has elements that make it stand out from other terminals. It has to have the opportunity to change and develop.

“The goal of architecture, too, is to serve customers as well as possible and support the passenger experience. The building must promote the clarity of the orientation. In that way, the customer will understand where they are coming from and where they are heading”, says Silvennoinen.

The progress of Finavia’s development programme, launched in 2014, is gradual. The square area of the terminal will increase by 45%, baggage handling capacity will increase by about 50% and the number of bridge spots for wide-bodied aircraft will double. Airport expansion will take place in stages.

The terminal expansion is designed by PES-Arkkitehdit, a Finnish architects’ office that has received international recognition. The same company also designed the 1996 and 1999 expansions of Helsinki Airport, as well as the circular parking facilities in front of the terminal.

The goal of Finavia's development programme is to improve the service quality of Helsinki Airport and to strengthen its competitive position in air traffic between Europe and Asia. Through the expansion, Helsinki Airport prepares to serve 20 million customers by 2020.