The extension of Terminal 2 at Helsinki Airport opened this month with a new main entrance, departures hall and arrivals hall. The opening is the latest phase in a €900 million ($1.15 billion) seven-year development program announced in 2013 by airport operator Finivia corporations.
The main entrance leads passengers to the departures hall with an undulating wooden roof. During the day, the space bathes in natural light flooding in through huge windows.
One of the goals was to restore a sense of adventure and romance to air travel. The architecture is inspired by classical Finnish design, such as Tapio Wirkkala’s Ultima Thule and geographical contours. The design of the roof plays with the alteration of lightness and heaviness.
“We are proud to offer world-class facilities to passengers. I have not yet met anyone who does not become delighted when entering the doors,” said Henri Hansson, senior vice president for technology and sustainability at Finavia Corporation, which manages and develops 20 airports in Finland.
“The terminal, its facilities and services have been designed as a new business card for Finland,” Hansson explained. “For many, Helsinki Airport is their first contact with our country. Terminal 2 is mostly Finnish high-quality work of which we can be proud.”
The tallest passengers may even be able to touch the ceiling at its lowest parts. The roof made in Raisio is finished with true Finnish spruce. It consists of 500 cross laminated timber elements that have been positioned one at a time, like a giant puzzle.
“The visual experience supports the smoothness of travel. The colors and materials will guide the passenger through the terminal. We have completed numerous solutions to make air travel as easy and natural as possible,” said Hansson. Environmental values and decarbonization were at the heart of the planning. The terminal has been built to be 30 percent more energy-efficient than officially required.
“Sustainability has been an important goal throughout the development program. It defines everything we do: planning, construction, cooperation, and maintenance. The extension for long-distance traffic has already been awarded an internationally respected BREAAM certificate for comprehensive sustainability work,” says Hansson.
Energy savings have been achieved thanks to the superior thermal insulation of the building envelope and efficient heat recovery. The smart lighting systems dims and turns off depending on how much natural light floods in through the terminal’s huge windows. In the new P1 Premium/P2 parking garage, vehicles are charged with solar power.
“Passengers, meeters and greeters will get to enjoy even better services. We have refined the customer experience and taken into account the high-quality requirements of both domestic and international passengers,” says Finavia’s Ulla Lettijeff, Helsinki Airport’s director.
The multimodal travel center connects different modes of transport. The terminal can be reached directly from the new parking hall P1 Premium/P2 and the train station in just a few minutes. The covered platforms of bus and taxi stations are located right next to the exit of the terminal. Now cars and taxis can drive directly in front of the main doors to drop off passengers.
Passengers arriving at Terminal 2 will go out through one centralized arrivals hall where people waiting for them can come to meet them. The arrivals hall will have familiar café and restaurant services. The 24/7 Alepa grocery store, car rental companies, and Finavia’s information859164 service also have been transferred there.
“The convenient connection to the train station brings the services of Helsinki Airport very close to the residents in the nearby areas. With its restaurants, cafés, grocery stores and pharmacies, the airport will serve them well,” says Lettijeff.
The focal point of the arrivals hall is the Luoto diorama which brings Finnish nature to the center of the terminal. Rough, moss-covered stones and carefully selected plantings bathe in the natural light coming in from a huge skylight. The nature elements link the Asian Ikebana to Finnish nature. It symbolizes the significance of Helsinki Airport as an important European hub for transit traffic.
“The reform strengthens the position Helsinki Airport has as an international transit airport. The airport’s unbeatable advantage lies in its strategic position between Europe and Asia. Improved services and the smooth flow of transit traffic will increase Finland’s competitiveness,” says Lettijeff.
In 2019, the airport completed a new central square for long-haul passengers that offers an extra 270,000 square feet of space for passengers, taking capacity up to 30 million annually.
The new parking hall at Helsinki Airport, which opened December 1, 2021, has 1,800 new parking spaces for passengers in two separate areas: P1 Premium and P2.
“Passengers can take a lift to the terminal from both parking areas without needing to go outside. Parking is getting even closer to the departure gate,” says Jukka Isomäki, Finavia’s director responsible for the development of ground traffic at the airport.
The new hall has taken drivers of electric cars into consideration, as an entire floor in the P2 area has been reserved for electric cars. There are also charging points for electric cars in the P1 area as well as in Finavia’s previously opened P3 Premium and P5 parking halls.
In the P1 and P2 areas, electric cars will be charged with electricity from the nearly 700 solar panels installed on the side of the parking hall. The first floor of the P1 Premium area uses heat recovered from the new Terminal 2 extension to maintain its temperature.
“The use of renewable energy is important to us, as we invest in sustainable development. The high-quality parking hall is built to meet all customers’ needs. We strive to make using the airport easy and smooth. A pleasant journey starts from the parking hall,” says Isomäki.
“We will start using a ticketless parking system in the new parking hall. You will no longer need to reach out of your car’s window when driving in or out, as the gate will open automatically when the registration plate is recognized.”
The new parking hall is easy to navigate. The floors are color-coded, and their signs feature Nordic woodland animals, which makes the floors easier to remember (the only exception is the floor reserved for electric cars, which has signs that feature a car). In the new parking halls, the parking spaces are larger than in other halls and passengers can find their car easily with the Find My Car service.
Although the doors of the new Terminal 2 are open, construction is still ongoing. In the summer of 2022, a new security control and check-in area will be introduced, as well as the opening of the restaurant area. In 2023, the alterations to the Schengen gate area and baggage claim hall will be completed, and Finavia’s eight-year investment program will come to an end.
Images: Finavia Corporation