Auckland International Airport, New Zealand
“Pou Manawa,” a bespoke fabric sculptural structure in the form of a tree, is the focal point of Auckland International Airport’s new retail departure area. Crafted from PTFE fabric and tensioned into place, the sculpture creates a continuous light, translucent surface that is rear projected with various natural and traditional Maori imagery.
Initial discussions between the project architects and fabricator explored the use of various fabrics and structural forms to achieve the desired shape. While Ignite Architects developed the design for the sculptural timber-paneled trunk and the tiled base, Fabric Structure Systems developed the design and methodology of the fabric canopy. Once the concept was selected, the challenge was finding a solution to support and tension the fabric between floor level and the ceiling, which had little structural capacity. Wade Design Engineers designed a structural system that uses a massive truss ring suspended from the building roof; the canopy fabric hangs from this system. The sculptural trunk base provides a fixed anchor point for the fabric thus creating a clear projection surface. After much testing, Sefar PTFE fabric was selected for its structural strength and projection qualities. Logan Brewer and Kenderdine Electrical developed a projection system using 24 gobo projectors and LED lights to create a continuous 360° image on the complex internal surface of the tree. Red Steel fabricated the complex steel forms that support the tree fabric and the sculptural trunk.