Pier E, Copenhagen Airport

Pier E is part of the radical expansion of the flow in the landside terminal areas in Copenhagen Airport – CPH. Over the years CPH has evolved from the first terminal in 1939 to a series of distinctive buildings. Together, the combination of terminals, piers, thoroughfare areas, and offices form a huge public building complex, which, on account of its diversity and small building units, comes across as a town with its own special atmosphere.

Finger E Københavns Lufthavn skitse
Københavns Lufthavne A/S
COWI A/S, Zeso Architects
Copenhagen Airport
22,000 m²
Inaugurated 2019

The concept

The building is designed as a well-defined ‘shell’ – a setting for passengers’ movement from the arrivals hall to the waiting planes. The choice of simple, robust materials and a balanced inflow of daylight result in a building that allows the various functions (waiting areas, counters, and various services) to influence and renew the architecture.

The inspiration came from Terminal 2, a distinguished and very appropriate example of an airport building. It is architecturally robust and has, over the years, succeeded in accommodating complexity in the shape of various configurations of balconies, floating walkways, and inserted structures.

The waiting zones and corridors are designed in dynamic, sweeping lines. The building is divided into three, public-oriented floors. There is a sequence of light ‘flow balconies’ between the concrete pillars and concrete cores, ensuring smooth passage for travellers. The uppermost transit floor appears strapped down and contributes an active identity to the rest of the building. 

The solution ensures separate flows for arriving passengers and improves clarity and orientation for passengers by indicating the direction of the flow.

There are generous skylights in the building, providing visual and experiential continuity in the overall airport facility.

The architecture of Pier E is based on a rational, robust structural system, consisting of a few concrete pillars and concrete cores, which reduce bonds in the functionality related to flow and process. The solution will create flexibility both now and in the event of any re-planning in the future.


The bright material appearance of the Terminal is supported by natural materials. Wood and natural stone, composed in geometries, emphasise daylight and underpin the functionality of the Terminal. The choice of materials builds further on CPH’s overall materiality with warm materials and soft shapes.


Pier E, Phase 1 comprises 22,000m2 and on the ground floor contains 4 Schengen bus gates, 2 flex bus gates and 4 non-Schengen bus gates, and on the 1st floor a bridge-serviced flex gate, 2 bridge-serviced non-Schengen gates, and a passport control area, including a support room for the police etc.

On the 2nd floor, there will be separate flows for non-Schengen, Schengen and non-EU passengers, including passenger flow to/from the GO terminal. There will also be a transfer security area on the 2nd floor and a new Border Control building.

Finger E