Melbourne Airport says design your own terminal

Melbourne Airport says design your own terminal
Image © Melbourne Airport

Before you foster grand plans of outdoing Homer Simpson's "Persephone" or adding a Wet and Wild atop the upcoming Terminal 4, Australia Pacific Airports Corporation Pty Ltd (APAC) last week released a statement calling for public design input into the finer grain aspects of the new terminal which will house Melbourne's two low-cost airlines. It reads as follows:

We're seeking feedback on the design of its new domestic terminal.  Construction is underway on the new Terminal 4, which will be home to growing low-cost airlines Jetstar and Tigerair. A survey has been compiled based on a fly-through animation of the new Terminal 4, and we're seeking input from the general public and a range of stakeholders. Frequent Melbourne Airport passengers and visitors, aviation enthusiasts and anyone interested in the development of the new terminal are invited to participate in the survey. 

Survey respondents are asked their opinion on the look and feel of the design, as well as questions around how they would like to spend time while waiting to depart or visitors to arrive. Melbourne Airport will monitor the survey site regularly for useful feedback on the design of the new terminal, which will be updated as progress continues.

Whilst our article title may be slightly facetious, it's a wise move on APAC's behalf to involve public feedback where possible given the bare bones (if not shambolic) nature of the current low-cost facility.  

Designed by Hassell, Melbourne Airport's new southern terminal precinct will be delivered by Leighton Holdings with a construction contract valued at $370 million. Covering 20,000 square metres, the initial phase now under construction will be capable of handing 10 million passengers per annum upon completion, doubling in capacity if and when expansion plans are enacted upon.

Impressive enough yet what would be a worthwhile addition to Melbourne Airport's Terminal 4 given the complex's design for the most is set in stone? Reinventing the wheel and suggesting truly ground breaking ideas would be a pointless exercise given APAC's penchant for function over form, as evidenced by the 1970's international terminal facade still greeting passengers upon their arrival.  

It's a domestic terminal with minimal layover times therefore the need for a terminal user to relax or be stimulated for a few hours maximum is paramount; making the terminal a passenger experience rather than a choir would be ideal, therefore:

  • Incorporate a well sized, low maintenance, functional rooftop garden akin to Freshwater Place Southbank's (below right) which would double as a viewing platform where users could relax, have a drink or meal, and take in sweeping views of the aircraft before them to the CBD beyond.  Introducing a much more diverse material palette - brick pavers, timber, high quality concrete finishes etc. 
  • Mimic Melbourne Central's rejuvenated retail precinct or QV's food hall with a multi-level retail and service dominated layout - give users a high quality offering and those excruciating one to three hours of dead time will be no more.
  • Have institutions such as Melbourne Zoo, Melbourne Aquarium, Scienceworks, Melbourne Museum or the NGV sponsor mini exhibits where columns (not necessarily structural) such as that below left are placed within the terminal acting as aquariums, displays or reptile/insect exhibits - keep the kids occupied whilst also exposing Melbourne's tourist attractions at the first point of contact for most travelers.
  • Paraphrasing this article 'How new technology is influencing the design of the future,' implement the technologies that passengers find highly useful to allow their terminal experience to be enjoyable, rather than an obstacle.

Melbourne Airport says design your own terminal

Why stop there!  The oversized car park masquerading as a Ground Transportation Hub is abysmal if the below render is anywhere near accurate in its depiction.  Surely APAC which rakes in stupendously high revenues from car parking fees can loosen the purse ever so slightly more and allow those charged with designing the complex to actually design?  

A search of 'car park facades' in Google Images yields both impressive and intriguing.  The array of facade materials and the technologies backing those facades is impressive and makes the below render look quite pathetic in the process.

The ideal outcome for the Ground Transportation Hub - a functional, efficient facility that has minimal ongoing maintenance costs whilst also being aesthetically pleasing given it is a massive facility not easily missed.

Melbourne Airport says design your own terminal

The solution - Herma Parking Building by JOHO Architecture.  Located in Seoul, the impressive structure is both functional and daring in its design.  Rather than the above eyesore, a clad of polycarbonate and stainless steel panels punctuated by diagrid metal vents (below) offers a slightly more expensive, immeasurably more impressive design outcome with essentially no long term maintenance costs due to the materials used.

Better yet, what chances of a mixed use development where a hotel or admin/office space is placed atop the car park in akin to this mixed-use Bjarke Ingles Group project? Its been done with the opposing Melbourne Airport Car Park & PARKROYAL, why not once more?

Melbourne Airport says design your own terminal

See the link below to Melbourne Airport's webpage inviting feedback and should you have any suggestions we'd love to hear them as well via the comment section below.

Mark Baljak

Mark Baljak

Mark Baljak was a co-founder of He passed away on Thursday 8th of November 2018 after a battle with cancer. He was 37. Mark was a keen traveller, having visited all six permanently-inhabited continents and had a love of craft beer. One of his biggest passions was observing the change that has occurred in Melbourne over the past two decades. In that time he built an enormous library of photos, all taken by him, which tracked the progress of construction on building sites from across metropolitan Melbourne.

Melbourne Airport

Comments (1)

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Finally got around to completing the survey. Thanks for the reminder :)

Must say, the main points I raised regarding the terminal were that the facade needs a more consistent look across all 4 terminals and that the minimalist style of the interior depicted in the renders needs more work.

The touches of colour are a good start but I would like to see some Melbourne design features included, not just pictures on the baggage claim. Some street art and lane way design features would be great.

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