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Jyväskylä Airport Terminal Extension
Tikkakoski, Finland, 2004

Jyväskylä Airport Terminal Extension

Client: Civil Aviation Group Finland
Location: Jyväskylä, Finland
Year of completion: 2004 (extension), 1988 (annexe and renovation)
Gross area: 1 683 m²
Volume: 9 160 m³

Passenger Terminal Annexe and Renovation

When discussing the design of Stansted Airport north of London, Norman Foster frequently recalled the small rural airports of the 1930s where the travellers could walk into one side of the shed and see their aeroplane waiting on the tarmac: this directness and sense of the drama of flying is what Foster hoped to capture in his new airport.

Jyväskylä's airport is one of the nodes of Finland's internal air system but it is a small affair by international standards. It is compact enough to allow naturally just that visual engagement between passengers and the process of flying that Foster was seeking at his much larger scale. The architects at Jyväskylä emphasized the relationship by placing the cafe in the middle of the building, virtually opposite the landside entrance and crowning it with a glass tower that has the dual function (from the inside) of emphasizing the drama of landing and take-off and (from the outside) of adding a punctuation mark to what would otherwise be a virtually undifferentiated horizontal box. The side wall of the tower is inflected to emphasize both effects, and to hide the baggage handling area from the cafe.

The impression of light and space within the building is enhanced by a long strip of skylight that illuminates the foyer, which receives yet more light through the large glazed screen of the arrival area. In the foyer, finishes are very simple: white walls with blue tiled surroundings to the doors. Detailing is restrained and unfussy, with admirably organized signage and simple yet thoughtful touches like the stainless-steel rings that protect the columns from damage by trolleys and baggage.

On the outside, this restraint could have led to a dull box. Cost constraints kept the outer walls to simple precast sandwich slabs finished with brown tiles. Instead of trying to enliven the box with rubbishy decoration, the architects chose to erect a curved steel canopy all along the landside and over the arrival and departure points of the airside. The suspended structure of this elegant device provides all the decoration and visual diversity needed and reminds us that much architectural ornament is an abstraction of previous structural orders. This handsome and practical little building asks why we do not use real structure to useful and visually enlivening ends more often, rather than messing about with decorative forms that have now lost all meaning.

Passenger Terminal Extension

The extension is seamlessly located flush with the passenger terminal, so creating a new airside façade (where the original canopy was swept away, while the land side remained intact). The load-bearing structure of the extension consists of concrete-filled steel stanchions, steel beams and hollow-core slabs. The airside façade has a steel and glass wall and a laminated timber canopy that runs the entire length of the façade. This canopy is supported by laminated timber arches of planed spruce and its inner curve is clad in birch ply. Façade cladding is of planed, heat-treated softwood battens. The interior is paneled in clean black alder. Increased use of timber compared to the original building is a response to the need for sustainability.