2019 Auckland Architecture Awards Winner
Auckland Airport International Departures Experience
Tens of thousands of people a day, many of them nervous. All of them to be efficiently delivered to their destination; also, all of them to be persuaded to buy things. An airport departure area is a shopping mall, through which customers must be detained but not overly distracted. They’ll spend more when they feel confident, and yet they are not inclined to be confident. None of this is easy. Even the wayfinding is fiendishly hard, when your signage competes with all the other visual information. Another goal: you want your customers to experience something unique, so they remember this airport when all the others become a blur. Security is paramount, and fire egress, and the list goes on. Jasmax and Gensler have done the job by creating a constantly reassuring sense that you can see the way ahead without it seeming to go on forever. The signage is easy to find and understand, the toilets have cubicles large enough to get your carry-on into. There’s some brilliant artwork, a crater pit for families, a boardwalk, “Instagrammable moments” with photographic murals, and ceiling and wall features that evoke waka and paddles. Fish fly through the air. And why not? Airports are exciting. When everyone knows where they’re going and how to get there, architects have a deeper job: to celebrate the journey. Leaving Auckland has never been this good.