A challenging brief 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 including functionality, planning efficiency, economy in building materials and construction and optimisation of the available pocket building site. In conjunction with external apron works, the project involved the expansion of the interior open lounge floor area, new retailing, linkages from the reconfigured passenger processing area and an increase to eight aerobridge-capable gates.
As the new building functions as the gateway to Wellington for international passengers, the brief also demanded the creation of a memorable visitor experience through a unique, edgy aesthetic that embodied a strong sense of place.
The new terminal building is a standalone structure, its oscillating outline derived from the indentations of aeroplane docks into the triangular site. This irregularity dovetailed with the concept of the building as a crusty, enigmatic rock embedded in the runway – recalling the site’s kinship with the craggy, sea-battered Wellington coast. A radical departure from contemporary airports, preoccupied with imagery of lightness and flight, The Rock evokes the anchoring qualities of the land. Its copper finish provides 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. Spaces unfold on varying levels and exploration is welcomed, with journeys through the interior modulated by a series of ramps, used in place of lifts, that form part of the building’s sustainability strategy.