A terminal with a view to the future

November 9, 2016: News

WIAL opens terminal South Extension.

A terminal with a view to the future
“The new terminal extension takes advantage of the outstanding natural light and views. It’s a relaxing environment for travellers and visitors.” Katherine Skipper

Wellington International Airport spans between Evans Bay to the North and the rugged South Coast, with views from the main domestic terminal passenger lounge across the tarmac to the Western Hills.

When Warren and Mahoney was appointed to design an extension to the Main Terminal lounge, design architects and Principals in the Wellington studio, Ralph Roberts and Rodney Sampson, wanted passengers and visitors alike to be able to experience and enjoy the stunning views to the apron and South Coast.

The Wellington Airport Terminal South Extension project has been designed to meet projected passenger demand to 2030. Warren and Mahoney Wellington Principal Katherine Skipper was project architect in charge of the extension, which has added 35 metres in length to the original airport terminal building and widened lounge connection to the Southern gate lounges to accommodate centralised security screening positions.

She says the Warren and Mahoney team’s vision was to design a terminal with a ‘connected lounge’ feeling – utilising the expansion to showcase Wellington to international and domestic travellers, and provide travellers with a clear view of departing and arriving aircraft and the hustle and bustle of all tarmac operations, all from the comfort of the lounge.

“The building has amazing views out to the South Coast. Part of the reason we extended the windows is so we continue the immediacy of the view out to the apron.”

The main terminal lounge extension typically matches the original terminal lounge design. With structural steel frames, glass facades and extensive use of timber veneer throughout, the lounge provide an open and clear lounge space to accommodate passenger requirements and airport operations.

Beyond the main Terminal building lounge, the link to the South West Pier has been widened to accommodate AVSEC screening and arriving passenger control systems. Crafted glue laminated structural columns, curve gracefully around the building to support the glass facades. The glass stretches tautly across the timber, protecting passengers from the robust environment outside while also allowing them to closely observe the airport operations on the apron below, and feel connected to sweeping views across the apron to the South Coast and Lyall Bay. The result is a highly operational environment which still feels like a lounge.

The design, says Katherine Skipper, seeks to create spaces which are “memorable and creative” and is a reflection of the importance of the airport as both “first and last experience of Wellington” for millions of visitors each year.

“The new terminal extension takes advantage of the outstanding natural light and views. It’s a relaxing environment for travellers and visitors.”

The TSE (Terminal South Extension) project also provided the opportunity to design new bespoke carpets which reflect the airport and city’s proximity to Wellington harbour, with reflected beams of light and colour angling towards the city across a rippling background. At key locations, the work of local artists has been integrated into the carpet.

Katherine Skipper says that working on the three-year project was “intellectually stimulating.”

“It is challenging working at an operational airport, especially for the contractor, as the client’s operational requirements must be maintained throughout.”

But the resultant design, she says, provides a memorable experience for passengers at one of Wellington’s gateways to the city.


Main Terminal Building Extension - An internal palette of timber veneer, glass and structural steel to match the existing Terminal finishes. External envelope to match existing one, including aluminium, panel and glass façade system, sheet cladding and profiled metal cladding.

South West Pier Link Extension - Glue Laminated structural timber columns supporting a unitised glass façade, glue laminated ceiling beams supporting folded perforated metal ceiling panels and integrated services.

South Pier Extension - Structural steel frames and timber frame construction to match existing finishes with full height windows to ramped areas. Profiled metal cladding.