Terminal 3, Copenhagen Airport

Terminal 3 is familiar to most Danes and represents a point of orientation for travellers, whether departing or arriving. The ‘Paper Aeroplane’, as Terminal 3 is affectionately known, is a focal point in an otherwise complex airport facility, which has been expanded on an on-going basis ever since its construction in 1925. Its iconic shape was created with a distinctive, expressive design based on the more prosaic, existing terminal facility. At the same time, the large roof structure provides a bright, calm, clear space, not unlike an old railway station. 

Terminal 3 stretches between Terminals 1 and 2 at the southern end, and the railway and Metro station at the northern end, the latter opening in 2007. Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects designed both stations.

The utilisation of daylight in the building’s volume and longitudinal façades clarifies passengers’ movement towards the other terminals. The triangular plane geometry expresses the distribution of passenger types. The arrival area is located in the wide section; the departure area is located in the central section; the Metro and railway station area is located in the pointed end of the terminal. It is a unifying shape in an airport characterised by development and change.

The main structure of the terminal is a solution with a double row of fixed pillars every forty metres, indicating the main flow in the centre of the space, and bearings in the façade every six metres. This solution divides the huge triangle into two smaller triangles, each with its own load-bearing structure along the edges. Between the two triangles and the double row of pillars, the skylights represent the backbone of the entire terminal. The geometry of the double-curved roof structure is defined by a series of circular sections. The line, where the large façades meet the roof, is a circular section with a radius of 1.3m.

The wind reinforcement in the glass façades, which have an impressive height of up to 20m, is incorporated into the façades as a distinctive architectural element, like classic buttresses positioned in line with the roof’s load-bearing pillars in the façade. This highlights the constructive system, visible from far away like a secondary system in the constructive hierarchy, with the roof as the building’s principal element.

Material-wise, it was crucial for Terminal 3 to have cohesion with the existing terminal facility (particularly Vilhelm Lauritzen’s terminal dating from 1960) with wooden flooring as the most significant choice of material.

Københavns Lufthavne A/S
Erik K. Jørgensen A/S., Steensen & Varming A/S, Hansen & Henneberg A/S
Lufthavnsboulevarden 6, DK-2770 Kastrup
30,000 m2
Inaugurated in 1998
1999: Københavnerprisen ‘Årets Bedste Bybillede’
1998: Foreningen Hovedstadens Forskønnelsesdiplom