Small airport, big culture
The location of this project is a wild, rugged landscape dominated by Mount Taranaki, a 2518-metre-high, snow-capped dormant volcano whose name derives from the Maori words for shining (“naki”) and peak (“tara”), towering over a flat promontory skirted by wide black sandy beaches.
International consultancy Beca Architects was commissioned to transform the existing 1960s airport building originally designed to handle 50,000 passengers a year into an inspiring and efficient regional gateway for nearly half a million people. The new airport terminal opened to the public on Tuesday 17 March 2020.
A model of respect and attention to the indigenous people and their traditions, the new airport terminal project involved extensive consultation with stakeholders, who played an active role in both the design process and some of the construction work.
In the splendid presentation video, New Plymouth District Council’s Gaye Batty says “… we stopped to pause and reflect on the fact that the site is the estate of the Puketapu Hāpu. People lived there and were buried there. So, it was time to find a new way and engage with Mana Whenua [the indigenous people]”.
“When we started this project, it was very important to us that we created a gateway to the Taranaki region that reflected a very specific and particular sense of place,” said Graham Crust, who led the design team at Beca.
Working with key stakeholders including the local council and custodians of the Puketapu Hapu people’s traditions, Beca developed a design for the new terminal that reflects the unique identity of the Taranaki region, integrating key cultural narratives throughout the building such as spiritual wall artwork and traditional sculptures. Graham Crust comments: “In the interior design we didn’t want to use simple decorations but to transfer the creation myth of the location, the narrative and the history of this people into physical and visual signs.”
The architects also expressed the geo-semantics of the location in the inclinations of the two roofs, one of which rises skywards like a volcano while the other descends towards the earth like a river. The attention to human beings is also symbolised by the curvature of the arrivals and departures building, which appears to welcome passengers in an emotional embrace, an affectionate greeting or farewell to people who are arriving or departing.
As the gateway to the Taranaki region, the new terminal combines the requirements of safety, durability and ease of maintenance, integrating them with cultural narratives through works of art created by local craftsmen, sculptors and weavers. For the floor coverings, the architects chose the Venezia porcelain tile collection from Cir Ceramiche in matt white, grey and black colours for indoor use, and the Xtreme collection from Cercom in silver with a grip surface for outdoor applications.
Mount Taranaki is one of the treasures, or taonga, bestowed as a gift by Mother Earth and guarded by the Maori as custodians. As of 2017, the mountain was declared a legal personality in its own right, which means that anyone damaging it automatically commits a crime against the local inhabitants, the Taranaki iwi.
Cir Ceramiche, Venezia
White, Grey, Black
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): ≤ 0,3% Bla GL
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): classe A
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): MOHS > 6
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): conforme
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): conforme
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): R ≥ 35 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R10
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): conforme
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): conforme
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): conforme