dcsimg Pulkovo Airport nears completion - Ramboll Group

Pulkovo Airport nears completion

Parametric modelling techniques have delivered savings in the expansion of Russia’s fourth largest airport. The refurbished Pulkovo Airport has an annual passenger capacity of 17 million, up from 8.4 million, and plays an important role in connecting Russia to new development possibilities. 


Pulkovo Airport in St Petersburg is Russia’s fourth largest airport, after the three major airports in Moscow, and provides a critical gateway into Russia. However, the airport has been close to maximum capacity for several years and in 2007 an international competition was launched for the design of a landmark terminal and surrounding airport ‘city’.  

One of the most ambitious aviation projects currently underway

In 2008 a €1bn public-private partnership development programme was announced (the first PPP in Russia) which will see the airport grow to over 100,000m2 with annual passenger capacities of 17 million, up from 8.4 million. The Northern Capital Gateway Consortium (NCG) was awarded the 30-year concession and appointed Ramboll as the lead design consultant. The teams at NCG and Ramboll didn’t delay initiating Phase 1 of the reconstruction project given the main terminal building had to be complete and open by 1st January 2014, with all works being completed by 2016 -  all whilst keeping the existing Pulkovo Airport fully functioning. 

“We are very excited to see Pulkovo Airport so close to completion with ORAT (Operational Readiness and Airport Transfer) having begun on 10th September. It has been a fascinating project to work on and truly pushed technical boundaries of innovation in Russian Aviation.  Ramboll acting as lead consultant provided design leadership as well as the majority of engineering disciplines with a team spread across 4 countries” said Shonn Mills, Head of International Markets in Ramboll UK. 


A scope including passenger, airside and landside facilities

The programme takes a holistic view across the entirety of Pulkovo Airport covering the three core areas of passenger, airside and landside facilities. The scope included:

•  Passenger Terminal Facilities including a new main terminal building, passenger pier and the refurbishment of Pulkovo 1 - the existing domestic terminal building. 

•  Airside Facilities including an overhaul of the existing Pulkovo Airport inside infrastructure as well as large expansions and operation improvements such as taxiways, the apron, the fire station, road system and more.

•  Landside Facilities including airport support facilities and commercial developments such as a hotel, business centre, offices, car-parking, warehousing and administrative support facilities.

The client's wish was to create a landmark terminal placing strong emphasis on design. Grimshaw Architects developed the initial competition winning concept which NCG, Ramboll and Pascall + Watson have developed and brought to life: 

"The design put the passenger experience at its core and looks to create views over St Petersburg and celebrate arrivals into Pulkovo. The design therefore draws on the architecture of the city of St Petersburg and so large glazed facades and a striking long span-roof form the focal points of the design. The floor plate concept, which reflects the processing in the airport, are connected by elevated walkways to reflect and celebrate the character of the City of island and bridges. Pragmatically the design also needed to have simplicity in its logic to enable the programme to be delivered cost-effectively, to ensure speed and ease of construction and to cater for future flexibility,” Shonn Mills explained. 

Engineering Russia’s 4th largest airport 

As the lead design consultant Ramboll have been working on Pulkovo Airport since March 2008 and have been formed a multidisciplinary team including structural, civil, MEP, façade and geotechnical engineers, as well as acousticians, fire and safety experts, sustainability and environmental specialists and project managers. In order to deliver the very best blend of expertise this team includes global experts from across the UK, Denmark and Sweden, as well as resource in Russia. 

Ramboll’s mission was to engineer the design of Pulkovo to realise Grimshaw Architects ambitious vision for the airport in the most efficient and effective way, all within the tight timescale set by the client and the need to maximise flexibility to enable further development in the future so the airport can grow with the passenger numbers. 

New techniques to deliver big savings

The complexity and scale of main terminal lead to an exciting challenge for the structural engineers and technicians delivering the design and integrated modelling of this structure: 

"To adapt quickly to changes in the architecture we had to utilise parametric modelling techniques to ensure our structural and CAD models for main terminal roof were always current and as accurate as possible. Optimising the structural elements to Russian and European standards in parallel lead to the development of bespoke programs and analysis scripts. The reward for developing these new techniques on a project of this scale is that small refinements in structural efficiency were seen as a big saving in overall roof steel tonnage”, said Design Engineer Kevin Hares, who did most of the analysis on the roof. 


Shonn Mills
M+65 852 321 97
Peter Heymann Andersen
Peter Heymann Andersen
Managing Director, Transport
T+45 5161 8454