Stainless Steel Mesh Helps Transform The Adelaide Airport Into A Striking Landmark

September 16, 2015

 Architect: GHD Woodhead

 Landscape Architect: Taylor Cullity Lethlean 

Collaboration: Dryden Crute Design and Bluebottle 

Principal Contractor: Watpac Construction 

Principal Engineer: Wallbridge & Gilbert 

Project Supervisor: Mott MacDonald 

GKD Metal Fabric:  Tigris

As a thriving cultural metropolis in South Australia, Adelaide attracts tourists with its Mediterranean climate, festivals and state-of-the-art infrastructure. One example of the continuous development of the city’s transport links is the airport, located only a few miles from the city center. With around seven million passengers annually, it is one of the five largest airports in Australia. To meet growing passenger demand, a multi-story car park with direct connection to the main terminal building was completed in 2012. Since then, passengers have been able to cross a car-free forecourt to reach the terminal for a safe start or continuation of their journey. The highlight of the architects’ extraordinary design concept is a sweeping stainless steel construction clad with Tigris metallic mesh.

According to the project’s engineers, Wallbridge & Gilbert, “In 2010, Adelaide Airport proposed a significant upgrade program for landside infrastructure in the terminal precinct designed to enhance the overall aesthetic of the area, to provide airport users with more intuitive access and more secure parking.” In order to achieve this enhancement, updated road systems were established to allow easy internal access around the airport, a large car park facility with a capacity of 2,000 vehicles, and a multi-functional plaza created as a relaxing space for visitors and returning residents.

A great deal of emphasis is often put on transportation construction, particularly airports. Cities believe their airport is a representation of their community, as an airport is often a visitor’s first impression of a new city. In addition to visitor well being, the designers of the Adelaide Airport Landside Precinct were equally invested in a positive passenger experience for Adelaide’s traveling residents.

High design standards were initiated, as the TI terminal building was already award winning, pushing the designers to create an equally innovative design for the car park. According to the architects, the significant use of concrete elements was seen in various portions of the project, including the road and pedestrian bridge. The architects state, “The elliptical centre of the plaza is constructed from site-formed and poured colored concrete, with concrete providing the base for the striped granite paving.” The car park and plaza were designed by GHD Woodhead and was named the South Australian State winner for the Cement Concrete & Aggregates Australia’s 2013 Public Doman Awards.

The Woodhead International firm of architects worked together with T.C.L. Architects to design a forecourt that gives Adelaide Airport a high recognition value. Viewed from the air, the square appears to be an abstract representation of the region’s landscape. The oval patterns on the floor evoke the hills and plains of South Australia. Benches wind organically around the newly planted trees and turn the square into a natural oasis of tranquility in the midst of the hectic airport traffic.

A sweeping steel construction between the terminal building and car park marks the boundary of the square and hides the upper parking levels from view. 13 feet above floor level, it forms a dynamic inclined semi-circle measuring 49 feet at its highest point. To clad the massive steel construction, the architects needed a flexible material that follows the specified form. It had to provide a completely non-glare visual appearance for pilots, while also falling in line with a variety of inclination angles and various blank cuts. Tigris mesh from GKD fulfilled these exacting requirements and passed the specially arranged pre-test with flying colors. Alongside the necessary degree of flexibility, the stainless steel mesh offers the desired high-grade appearance, is durable, low-maintenance and does not dazzle approaching pilots. The substructure, inclined at two angles, was clad with 270 individually cut mesh panels with lengths varying from 3.9 to 34.1 feet and a width of 4.9 feet. Each panel was attached at a different inclination angle using the Fusiomesh fastening technology developed by GKD. In total, around 21,000 square feet of stainless steel mesh transform the Adelaide Airport forecourt into a striking landmark of the coastal city.

Photography courtesy of Mott MacDonald, Watpac Construction, and John Gollings and Ben Wrigley via T.C.L

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