The Nordic travel hub.
Text: Mariano Anthony Davies
Copenhagen Airport was originally called Kastrup Airport after the small town it is next to. It was opened in 1925 and was one of the world's first civilian airports. It is located just eight kilometres from the centre of Copenhagen, and with its 60,000 daily passengers, it's the largest airport in Scandinavia.
Pier E is Copenhagen Airport's latest wing, covering 36,000 square meters, with 13 gates and a brand-new passport control. Pier E is central to the airport's comprehensive plan towards 40 million travellers. It has a raw look, with specially designed chairs and two gigantic works of art by HuskMitNavn and Alexander Tovborg.
The airport's architectural history
Vilhelm Lauritzen was one of Denmark's most important architects and the man behind several touches of genius in this airport. He was the one who laid the jatoba wood flooring, installed the round skylights and created the iconic VL-Terminal, which has already celebrated its 80th anniversary. Vilhelm Lauritzen was a poetic modernist who, more than anyone else, has been influential in creating the airport's visual expression.
He has made his mark in Copenhagen with iconic buildings that include the VL-Terminal, the concert venue Vega, Radiohuset in Frederiksberg and Daells Varehus.
Vilhelm Lauritzen was one of Danish architecture's most striking individuals and, without comparison, the most influential architect in the airport's history. In addition to the old terminal from 1939, he designed Terminal 2, thus laying some of the architectural cornerstones for how the rest of the airport was later to develop.
The old airport terminal, which was later named after the architect himself, won the original tender in competition with another iconic Danish architect, Arne Jacobsen. Today, the building is protected and functions mainly as Danish Queen Margrethe's VIP terminal when she welcomes visiting foreign Heads of State.
Who was Vilhelm Lauritzen?
Vilhelm Lauritzen completed his architectural training in 1921 and founded his own practice a year later. He was deeply fascinated by butterflies and once stated in an interview that if he had not become an architect with butterflies as a hobby, he would probably have studied zoology and designed buildings in his leisure time. Consequently, natural science also became a professional focal point. He had the same scientific approach to a building process that he had when studying the life cycles of butterflies in his leisure time.
Lauritzen's architecture also applied art; his buildings were designed for the people, not the elite. In his drawings, there is thus a clear ideal: space and form must exist for generations, which is exactly what makes his buildings, even today, seem modern, according to his peers.
"One in ten passengers travelled to Spain, the most popular destination of the year and on the long-haul routes, the United States made a real comeback with almost 800,000 travellers."
Nordic hub history
Copenhagen's Airport was the first in the world designed exclusively for civil traffic. There were only a few small hangars and two small runways at the time. Flying took place exclusively during the summer months since there were no navigational aids. Improved technology allowed for year-round flying in the 1930s.
It wasn't long before Copenhagen Airport became the connecting point between the Nordic countries and the rest of Europe. The German occupation of the country in the 40s halted further developments in Danish civil aviation. Then, after the war, the airport went on to become an international hub since it suffered very little damage in the course of the war.
During the 50's, the terminal was extended, and air cargo became a part of the business. It became a two-terminal airport in 1969, and a beautiful Transfer Shopping Centre was added in the 1980s. Work on links to the airport by airway and highway with the Scandinavian Region (Sweden and Norway) and with the peninsula of Jutland/Germany were completed by the end of that decade.
By 1993, 12.9 million domestic and international passengers travelled through Copenhagen Airport, and more than 244,000 tons of cargo were handled. By then, it served ten domestic, 139 international, 105 European, and 34 intercontinental destinations, with 12,000 people directly employed by the airport.
With 22.1 million passengers last year and 160 destinations on the route map, years of dramatic decline ended, and 2022 became a turning point for Copenhagen Airport. One in ten passengers travelled to Spain, the most popular destination of the year and on the long-haul routes, the United States made a real comeback with almost 800,000 travellers.