Auckland International Airport is strategically located on the eastern edge of an isthmus of the North Island of New Zealand, where the topography unfolds into the rugged coastline. This is the region where the Maori first arrived in waka canoes from Polynesia, transforming the landscape through the cultivation of tropical plants in stone-lined excavations that became a sacred typology. Centuries later, European immigrants further modified the landscape with the cultivation of orchards and timber trees. They, too, protected the crops from the harsh climate with layered plantings of strict hedgerows. Both the Maori and European settlers dramatically shaped the Auckland and broader New Zealand landscape.
The airport landscape is an expression of this engagement of people and land, and it celebrates the multiple histories of New Zealand’s vernacular landscapes. Stone mounds that reference Maori stonesfields rise from the ground; a datum of hedgerows overlays these mounds, creating a simplified groundplane from which the greater Auckland landscape—both urban and volcanic—can be read with a newfound clarity. The earthforms serve a dual purpose as they address on-site soils remediation and stormwater treatment, part of a larger ecological mission of the airport.
Smaller, stone ‘blades’ reference the motion of a jet engine, and emphasize the excitement of arrival, travel, and cinematic choreography—of planes, cars, bicycles—through the airport landscape. Native New Zealand grasses soften the blades and connect them to the regional landscape. A spectrum of colors are pulled from the dramatic New Zealand landscape, from Hukafalls to the volcanoes in Auckland, and projected on the stone blades—welcoming travelers to the landscape of the country as they arrive.
Credits: - Harrison Grierson - Engineering - Natural Habitats - Landscape Contractor - Dempsey Wood - General Contractor - Bespoke Landscape - Local Landscape Architects