Wellington Airport’s South RESA (Runway End Safety Area) tunnel was commissioned to provide an extra margin of safety and eliminate hazards at the end of the runway. While the primary work on the project was the engineering of the tunnel, completed by Beca, Studio Pacific was engaged as part of a site wide creative commission to provide design advice.
Studio Pacific added colour and form to the engineering works with a series of bas-relief patterns, painted either white or vibrant orange, cast into the tunnel walls. Featuring adaptations of the markings previously painted on the runway above to guide the planes, the patterns preserve something of the site’s history, with those planes now withdrawn from use. Integrated lighting above the panels works with the patterns to create a theatre of colour and shape that unfolds as the journey through the tunnel progresses. An air ventilation duct running along the opposite wall is carefully detailed with LED coloured lights to add further visual interest.
Outside the tunnel, wall panels are left uncoloured, with the sun’s shadows providing variation in tone. Patterns on the eastern tunnel approach walls refer to the contours of the land and its geomorphic strata, with a series of vertical markers gradually bending as if blown by wind or by geological pressure.
Wellington Civic Trust Award for Street Art, 2008