The design of the new domestic and international terminal complex drew upon, and aimed to contribute to, the formal identity of the national capital, identifying this major public building, viewed and accessed along a newly constructed axial landscaped roadway system, and reflecting the similar setting of other major public buildings in Canberra.
The design for the 17 hectare site included the terminal building, site services infrastructure, surface and structured road works, two 1200 vehicle parking structures incorporating top floor commercial office space and on-grade parking, large scale advertising, integration of artworks, and open space and landscape design. The road system accounts for the wide variety of vehicular movements expected and required at an airport, all planned to eliminate pedestrian conflicts. A plan for an integrated Very Fast Train station has also been prepared.
The positioning of the buildings, the character of the open view landscape, the lighting, and the architectural form of the buildings’ elements are intended to provide a welcoming sense of identity, and to make way-finding simple and clear. Landscape courtyards incorporating waterworks, mature trees, shade structures, benches, lighting, and artworks are intended as a public amenity and places to linger while waiting for arrivals.
The master plan positions two car parking structures flanking the axis with direct connection to the terminal at ground and second levels, virtually eliminating pedestrian/vehicle conflicts. The central axis of the landscape is visually continued through the terminal, and marked by a three-storey atrium with louvered skylights. The central atrium incorporates the security check area and continues to the external wall of the terminal on the air-side, with a large window overlooking the take-offs and landings, and the landscape beyond.
The terminal has three floors and a partial basement. An elevated road leads directly to the second level drop-off areas leading to Departures, with ticketing hall, baggage drops and related facilities. After passing through the centrally placed security check area the plan is arranged in a long arc with departure gate waiting areas positioned regularly along the glass wall overlooking the apron. Airline club facilities at the third level are accessed by way of dedicated escalators, lifts and stairs, and are located directly above the gate waiting areas; both have broad views of the apron. The sloped curtain wall overlooking the runway reconciles the differing area requirements of the two levels.
Passengers arriving by air depart the airplane at the second level and then move to the ground level baggage claim area by way of dedicated secure escalators, stairs, and lifts. The baggage claim area overlooks and has access to the landscaped. At this level one also has access to an enclosed taxi waiting area, bus pick-up zone, and car parking.
Baggage management and airside services are located at ground level opposite from the baggage claim, and plantroom spaces occupy the basement. Two four storey plant rooms provide the facilities for Tri-generation, and are located so that access to the majority of plant equipment can be serviced outside of the secure zones.
Secure service deliveries lead to the basement where distribution of goods takes place. The terminal as a whole has been planned for ease and clarity of use and the interior has been developed to support this intention; equally it has been designed to have a practical, durable, and at the same time, elegant sense of materiality.
The architectural character and geometry of the atrium establishes the nature of other elements, the patterning of materials, lighting, signage, and graphics creating a unified environment, yet differentiated and articulated to use, location, orientation, as well as to providing focus, variety, and visual interest. A limited consistent range of materials provides a sense of unity and gives focus to spaces, pathways, turning points, and arrival places; colour has been used sparingly in support of way-finding.
The project was constructed in phases - each section in sequenced demolition was removed to make way for a new part of the building, allowing the airport to remain in operation throughout.
Currently Guida Moseley Brown Architects are finalising the fitout for the new International Departures and Lounge at Canberra Airport.