St Petersburg’s new airport set to welcome first passengers in January

Posted: 13 November 2013 | Pulkovo Airport | No comments yet

Construction of Pulkovo Airport in St Petersburg has entered its final phases…

Pulkovo Airport

Construction of Pulkovo Airport in St Petersburg has entered its final phases with Operational Readiness and Airport Transfer testing now underway.PulkovoPulkovo is Russia’s fourth largest airport and a crucial gateway to the region. The project doubles the annual passenger capacity of the airport to 17 million and is one of the most ambitious aviation projects underway in Europe.

Lead consultant Ramboll provided expertise in design as well as a full spectrum of engineering disciplines: from civil engineering and geotechnics to structural engineering, acoustics and building services. The construction project covers the entire operation at Pulkovo, including passenger terminal, airside and landside facilities.

The Grimshaw Architects design for the main terminal draws on the architecture of St Petersburg with interconnecting floor plates and elevated walkways that mirror the city’s islands and bridges. Glazed facades with views towards St Petersburg and a striking long span roof with 25m concrete supporting columns, reminiscent of angular soviet forms from the city, are focal points of the design and create space, light and height for passengers.

Working with client the Northern Capital Gateway consortium, Ramboll set out to bring this design to life and just five years later, the new terminal building is on the brink of welcoming its first passengers. Ramboll approached the project with an eye to delivering the main terminal’s dramatic design, while completing the programme cost effectively within tight time constraints, and with maximum flexibility to allow the airport to grow in the future.

The Ramboll team overcame a multitude of challenges to bring the project to completion, not least the immense scale of the building and the effect of extreme variations in the local climate.

The terminal building is over 100,000m2 with 5,000 tonnes of steel quants in the roof alone. To adapt quickly to changes in the architecture structural engineers and technicians used parametric modelling techniques that meant structural and CAD models for the main terminal roof were always as current and accurate as possible, ultimately allowing small refinements in structural efficiency that then made large savings in overall roof steel tonnage.

St Petersburg temperatures can range from -30°C to 35°C, a factor that affected many aspects of the project. Ramboll’s structural engineers used specialist scale models to test for wind and snow loads on the building, and the terminal roof was designed with a flat external surface to minimise the effect of snow weight. The team also came up with innovative answers to deal with movement across the main terminal roof in the face of the huge external temperature fluctuations, developing at solution that worked by placing the roof on bridge bearings.

During construction, Ramboll’s civil engineers worked in winter conditions in which the ground was frozen up to a depth of one metre. They tackled a very high water table, significant snow melt and extreme winter temperatures, using solutions including retention ponds to accommodate the snow melt, so avoiding the need for buried tanks.

Shonn Mills, Director at Ramboll said, “We are very excited to see Pulkovo Airport so close to completion. It has been a fascinating project to work on, and one where we have been able to push the technical boundaries of innovation in Russian aviation.”

Key facts

  • This phase of construction at Pulkovo Airport is part of a €1 billion euro PPP development programme. It is Russia’s first PPP.
  • The airport will more than double in annual passenger capacity from 8.4 million to 17 million.
  • The NCG consortium was awarded a 30 year concession for the project in 2008, appointing Ramboll and architects Pascall + Watson to develop phase I of the redevelopment and construction programme.
  • Ramboll provided a multidisciplinary team spread across four countries, including structural, civil, MEP, façade and geotechnical engineers, acousticians, fire and safety experts, sustainability and environmental specialists and project managers.
  • The existing airport has remained open throughout the construction project.
  • Grimshaw Architects developed the initial competition winning concept for the terminal and surrounding airport city in 2007.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit the site on 26 November, and the new terminal will open in December 2013, with all works complete by 2016.
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