Te Hono New Plymouth Airport Terminal wins at Prix Versailles!

In fantastic global recognition, Te Hono – New Plymouth Airport Terminal, has been awarded the World Special Prize for an Exterior 2021 (Airports category) in the Prix Versailles awards.
The announcement was celebrated at a special event hosted by Puketapu hapū at Muru Raupatu marae, and attended by representatives from Puketapu, New Plymouth District Council, Papa Rererangi i Puketapu, Beca and Clelands.

Since its creation in 2015 and inspired by the UNESCO world heritage Palace of Versailles in Paris, the prestigious Prix Versailles has sought to acknowledge global architecture that promotes and integrates sustainable architecture into its cultural context. Other finalists in the 2021 World Selection airports category were the upgrade to New York’s LaGuardia, Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport and international airports in Athens, Kazakhstan and the Philippines.

Conceived as a strong architectural and cultural gateway to the Taranaki region, the collaborative co-design process between local hapū Puketapu and Beca’s Design Practice, gave life to Te Hono, the New Plymouth Airport Terminal.

“Having our narrative drive the design process means that the building exhibits a design coherency to our social and cultural reality both past and present and also a sense of fidelity to the land upon which it sits,” says Puketapu designer Rangi Kipa.

Te Hono means “to connect” and is located on ancestral land confiscated from iwi in the 1960s. Sixty years later, the architecture of the terminal puts mana whenua (territorial rights) at its heart. Integrating members of local hapū Puketapu into the design team was crucial to this process. “This was not just a collaboration, it was a partnership,” says Campbell Craig, Associate – Design Practice, Beca, who was the project architect. “We sat alongside each other, shoulder to shoulder, at the design table in numerous, full-day workshops throughout the concept and preliminary design stages.”

The aim was to represent important ancestral stories in the form and fabric of the building, and six design narratives were chosen with one, ‘The Ascension from the Earth; Descending from the Sky’, selected as the principal thematic. It tells the story of Tamarau, a celestial being, who was so captivated by the earthly beauty of Rongo-ue-roa (terrestrial being) that he came down to meet her and was a natural fit for the design of an airport.

Rangi Kipa is proud that the airport has received a global award like the Prix Versailles, but the local achievement is far greater: “For the most part, we have been invisible in our own landscape for 160 years, so it’s amazing to have the chance to influence, and give life to, some of the things that make us who we are.”

The vision to co-design the new airport alongside a leadership team from Puketapu has allowed an airport which has meaning for all people of the region. “The experience at Te Hono provided a blueprint for working with tangata whenua,” says Campbell. “This is an extremely huge achievement for all that have been involved with the project. It would also be important to acknowledge this would not have been possible without the significant contribution of design team members Craig Pocock, Graham Crust, Robert Creed, Steve Gray, Joanna Wong, Liam Spinks and Project Manager, Matthew Low throughout the course of the project”.

More about the 2021 Prix Versailles winners can be read here.
Te Hono New Plymouth Airport Terminal - Credit Patrick Reynolds
Te Hono New Plymouth Airport Terminal - Puketapu hapū Awa-nui-a-rangi glasswork
Te Hono New Plymouth Airport Terminal - Credit Patrick Reynolds
Te Hono New Plymouth Airport Terminal - Credit Patrick Reynolds