New Zealand’s Wellington Airport has unveiled controversial design plans for its new international terminal.

‘The Rock’, a cluster of three buildings designed to resemble the rocks of Wellington’s rugged south coast, will include a large departure lounge, a café and an air bridge able to handle Boeing 787s.

Designed by Wellington architects Studio Pacific Architecture and Christchurch’s Warren and Mahoney, the NZD$53m terminal will be sheathed in copper.

Designer Nick Barratt-Boyes says the copper will go “green and crusty” over time.

“What we’re anticipating here is a crusty rock where we’ve got character – not a shiny building,” he says.

Wellington Airport CEO Steven Fitzgerald says the radical departure from worldwide airport design was deliberate.

“What is set to become New Zealand’s newest iconic building, the Rock combines functionality and capacity with what will be a memorable visitor experience,” he says.

The improvements will double the international terminal’s capacity to handle a thousand passengers per hour.

The terminal is the second phase of Wellington Airport’s improvement programme, and is expected to be complete by the end of next year.

By Elizabeth Clifford-Marsh