The sky’s the limit — Edinburgh Airport’s construction history

Edinburgh Airport started life as a small Royal Flying Corps aerodrome named Turnhouse in 1915 —the first commercial services weren’t launched until 1947.

But by the end of 2014 it exceeded the 10 million passenger mark — the busiest year ever for a Scottish airport.

And the hub’s transformation over the course of a century involved some fascinating civil engineering projects.

So it’s worth reviewing a few highlights from its construction history.

Control tower

Edinburgh’s stylish air traffic control tower opened in 2005 after taking a year to complete.

The 57-metre-high structure cost £10 million to complete and was designed by Reid Architecture, with Laing O’Rourke as principle construction partner.

Advocates of aesthetic design appreciate the award-winning tower’s sleek, stretched pepper-grinder silhouette.

But it’s also innovative — featuring a seven-metre diameter concrete circular core with service riser and stairs clad in diamond-shaped aluminium shingles.

A slide-out drawer in the first floor for removing and replacing technical equipment adds a final ingenious flourish.

Parking facilities

Edinburgh has also displayed innovation in terms of its parking facilities.

In 2004, owners BAA opened a new five-storey car park opposite the terminal building with a terminal walkway and 2000 additional spaces — rapidly reducing the time taken to enter and exit the main building.

The design has a one-way search to all floors, independent vertical circulation and payment areas kept separate from vehicle thoroughfares to protect pedestrians — features that helped it win Best New Car Park at the British Car Parking Awards in 2005.

Private firms also provide excellent secure parking options near Edinburgh Airport that further enhance its provision and offer drivers a range of long- and short-term options.

Terminal expansion

Over the past 10 years, Edinburgh has undertaken a comprehensive terminal expansion project aimed at increasing its capacity and making facilities more efficient and comfortable for customers.

The first stage of the project was completed in 2010 and involved the construction of a new departure lounge with a wider choice of bars, restaurants and retail outlets than previously available.

An initial £25 million terminal expansion plan was announced in 2013, which added 6000 square metres of additional space for passengers, shops and a security area — this was opened in 2015.

Finally, work on the new three-storey terminal building at Edinburgh began in early 2017, with BAM Construction awarded the contract for its first phase.

This latest addition is part of a wider £80 million investment that will futureproof the airport to cope with a significant projected rise in passenger numbers.

It’s also attempting to address environmental concerns by committing to a carbon trading system that lowers emissions in a sustainable way in the long-term.

Edinburgh Airport’s evolution closely shadows that of aviation itself — it’s moved from housing some of the first reconnaissance and fighter planes to gargantuan commercial models that carry passengers to far-flung destinations daily.

If it continues as an agile business, the sky’s the limit in terms of where it’s flights might carry passengers in another 100 years.

What’s your favourite airport construction project? Share your opinions in the comments section.

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