New Zealand's Lightness of Touch - Verdict Designbuild
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New Zealand’s Lightness of Touch

New Zealand's Lightness of Touch

With SEFAR Architecture Fabric, a primeval tree comes to life at Auckland Airport.

New Zealand thrives on nature, expanse, sun, and light. And naturally these qualities are to be found at Auckland Airport as well. With an almost endless lightness of touch, SEFAR Architecture Fabric provides shade for the new shopping centre in the terminal building, capturing the very essence of the country in a section of the tree which recreates the history of the Maori people.

Thousands of passengers arrive and depart each day from the nation’s largest inter – national airport, situated in Auckland on the North Island. However, New Zealand intentionally stays close to its roots. The vast sculpture which occupies the large shopping and restaurant zone in the departure area is known by its Maori name "Pou Manawa" – the tree.

First inhabited around the 13th century by the Maori people, modern New Zealand is still very much characterized by its indigenous roots. In this spirit, Ignite Architects together with Adrian Nancekivell Design have demonstrated empathy with the heart of an entire culture in their oversized creation "The Tree."

The tree – a powerful symbol of Maori culture
In place of traditional foliage, there is a nine-meter-high "crown of light" made from SEFAR Architecture EL-55-T0 Fabric. Providing a secure and smooth attachment of the textile construction between floor and ceiling, presented a particular challenge.

Today the tensioned membrane is held in place by a giant, circular frame attached to the roof construction. At the same time, the membrane originates in the "tree trunk," which acts as a fixed point below and is fashioned out of native meranti wood in the shape of a cornucopia – the horn of plenty.

A powerful attraction instead of a boring artefact
Travellers from all over the world find calming ambience and protection under one roof, with a relaxing oasis of gentle light in the midst of a busy international airport. At the same time, the streamlined fabric forms an even, translucent surface and, like the "trunk," is discreetly protected internally by steel casing.

Behind the oversize projection surface which is created, there are cleverly concealed projectors and LED lights depicting traditional Maori themes, forest moods, sunrises and sunsets, the night sky, and the ocean in a continuous, seemingly unbroken 360° sequence.

Increased satisfaction in the departure area
Switzerland to New Zealand has always been a long trip, so a comprehensive range of tests were conducted which centred on the design possibilities, physical characteristics, and projection qualities of the fabric. In addition to its durable UV-light fastness and dirt/water- resistant properties, SEFAR Architecture EL-55-T0 displays a particularly high diffused light ratio and minimal colour shifting.

The Pou Manawa project reached its apex with the opening of the redesigned departure area and since then has gained an excellent reputation in specialist circles including being named "New Zealand’s best retail interior for 2011."

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