Air Force Museum of New Zealand Wigram
The extension to the RNZAF Museum at Wigram represented an opportunity to reinvigorate one of New Zealand’s most important connections to its history and heritage.
The new Technology Centre brings fresh meaning to the history of conflict through a wider range of displays, new forms of exhibition and communication and greater involvement in the lives of those who died serving their country.
The new building creates a significant increase in the size of the museum and considerably enhances the overall visitor experience through a greater connection with the object restoration process. One of the central requirements of the project brief was to improve the working conditions for those working on restorations while also allowing an appropriate level of interaction with the public. This physical and visual connection was achieved by aligning the restoration workshop areas with the new Technology Centre.
The extension is simple in form and construction. The emphasis was placed on providing flexible, free span space for the inevitably changing needs of exhibitions and minimising the building’s intrusion into the exhibition process. The building, however, has an essentially aviation-oriented character with its hangar-like truss structure and simple rectangular form and cantilevering portal. The approach façade of the new exhibition space is fully glazed, allowing full visual access to the aircraft inside. This gesture of openness is a deliberate means of engaging the visitor in the experience during the process of arrival, creating a sense of excitement on approach to the main entry.