A 2.4-mile first class trip taken by an airport terminal.
When you see the circular staircase and wavy ceiling in the former Copenhagen airport terminal, it seems impossible to pick up and move such a structure. And yet, that’s exactly what was done to preserve this stunning building.
For two nights in September 1999, the building was transported across the airport’s runways to a new location. Now standing 2.4 miles from its previous home, the terminal still abuts a runway and is used for arrivals and departures of a single resident: the current monarch, Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II.
In 1936, a competition was held for the design of the terminal building at Copenhagen Airport. Architect Vilhelm Lauritzen and professor Chr. Nøkkentved submitted the winning proposal, which was praised for its elegance and unique approach to Nordic modernism. Construction was completed in 1939, but as air traffic increased, the terminal was expanded without any regard to the style, scale or proportions of the original structure. In 1960, a new, larger terminal was opened and Lauritzen’s masterpiece was abandoned, hidden behind years of thoughtless additions.
Thirty years later, the airport had plans for further expansion and Laurtizen’s empty terminal was in the way. Rather than destroy the building, the airport made the controversial and expensive choice to move it, and even more impressive is the fact that they moved the main building as a single unit. Employing hydraulic flatbed trucks with trailers coupled together – 744 wheels in total – they relocated the 2,600 ton, 360-foot-long structure to the other side of the airport. A line of bulldozers followed the trucks, so if the building collapsed, the runway could be cleared before morning flights arrived.
Settled in its new landscape with few other buildings around it, the terminal is once again seen as Laurtizen intended. Today it is used for airport administrative offices, state visits, VIP receptions and the arrival or departure of Her Majesty. Tours can be arranged by contacting the Copenhagen Airport Events and Visitors’ Department at +45 3231 2811.
Some of the original furniture remains, but the dining area has been refurnished with Gubi chairs.