The Rock, Wellington Airport
Winner, Transportation category, Inside World Festival of Interiors 2011
Finalist, Serve & Facilitate category, The Great Indoors Award 2011
Winner, Commercial Architecture Award, NZIA Wellington Architecture Awards 2011
Winner, Gold Award and Purple Pin, Spatial Design category, BEST Awards 2011
Winner, Interior Fitout Award, NZ Wood Timber Design Awards 2011
Winner, RMB Commercial Project of the Year, Registered Master Builders Awards 2011
A challenging brief with a double ambition meant that the redevelopment of the Wellington International Airport Passenger Terminal, completed in 2010 in association with Warren and Mahoney Architects, required a unique and innovative design.
The first task was to meet a set of complex technical specifications and optimise the available pocket building site, heavily constrained by aircraft choreography. In conjunction with external apron works, the project involved the expansion of interior open lounge floor area, new retailing, linkages from the new passenger processing area and an increase to eight aerobridge-capable gates.
As the gateway to Wellington for international passengers, the brief also demanded that the building offer a memorable visitor experience through a unique, edgy aesthetic that embodied a strong sense of place.
The oscillating outline of the new building was derived from the curved indentations of aeroplane docks into the confined triangular site. The organic irregularity of this outline dovetailed with the concept of the building as a crusty, enigmatic rock embedded in the runway – a gesture to the land’s geological past, recalling its kinship with the craggy, sea-battered Wellington coast. A radical departure from contemporary airports worldwide, preoccupied with the imagery of lightness and flight, the Rock terminal instead evokes the anchoring qualities of the land that rises to meet planes as they touch down and the coast that recedes away from them as they depart. Its copper finish is a mirror for Wellington’s swift transitions from grey sky to gold sunlight, as well as providing unparalleled durability in a corrosive environment of sea air and aircraft fuel gases.
In contrast to the bland, mall-like interiors that typify most international airports, the interior of the Rock exudes warmth and resounds with personality. Honey-coloured macrocarpa ply softens theatrical strata of dark-stained panels fissured with light. Spaces unfold on varying levels and exploration is welcomed, with journeys through the interior gently modulated by a series of ramps. Travellers are able to enjoy interior areas that are engaging and restful, impressive and intimate.
Client: Wellington International Airport Ltd.