Structure as architecture – a collaboration towards a shared vision

Beca and Warren & Mahoney have collaborated on the recently completed Southern Terminal Extension at Wellington International airport. This paper will cover the collaborative journey that the engineer and architect took to fulfil the client’s brief and how an architecturally rich scheme incorporated a number of resilient and low damage structural features.

The south and north facades of the south west pier feature full height glazing to maximise views of the apron and southern coastline beyond. To achieve the open expansive views, a novel structural system was developed that incorporated curved glulaminated timber frames and expressed structural steel connections that also act as replaceable fuses for the lateral load resisting system. Rather than hiding structural systems, the completed structure celebrates structure as architecture and provides a tactile and intimate experience for passengers using the busy airport. This paper will explore the architectural and structural challenges, compromises and successes of adopting a collaborative approach between the engineer and architect on a technically complex fast track project.

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