Wellington International Airport

Terminal South Extension

Location: Wellington

Client: WIAL

Architect: Warren and Mahoney®

Structural Engineer: BECA

Main Contractor: Hawkins Group

Products Used: Curved Glulam ‘X’ Columns and Decorative Ceiling Beams

Date: 2016

Our Challenge

Techlam NZ got involved at the tender stage of the project liaising with client Wellington International Airport, head contractor Hawkins Construction and architects Warren and Mahoney to devise the best way to produce this complex element of the project along with the ceiling beams.

Techlam NZ was commissioned to manufacture the large columns that support the structure to the South West Pier. Running along the length of the extension the X columns not only look good great but are also an important structural element, says Brett Hamilton, General Manager of Techlam NZ.

Our Solution

The stunning curved Glulam X columns are arguably one of the most striking features of the Wellington International Airport terminal south extension. The decision was made to manufacture fully assemble the curved glulam columns at Techlam NZ’s manufacturing plant, which offers 6000 m² of production area making it New Zealand’s largest structural Glulaminated timber manufacturing facility.

“This ensured a controlled environment so each joint was exact and could then be transported to site using specialist transport fully finished and assembled using specialist transport. We had to ensure everything was very precise. Because the columns were both an aesthetic and structural element there was no very little room for tolerance,” explains Brett.

Made from Radiata pine the columns and beams had to be treated to H 1.2 standards, which meant careful selection of timber to ensure the timber didn’t show any form of pigment staining in its finished form. Brett says manufacturing the columns was complex and required a lot of handcrafting to get right. Hawkins Construction, whom Techlam NZ had worked with previously on projects such as the Keith Spry Pool in Johnsonville as well as various projects in Auckland, installed the beams and columns. “Due to precise tolerances as well as the expertise of the Hawkins team installation time was kept to a minimum, just 20 minutes to install each X column,” says Brett.

“The project demonstrates how Techlam NZ as a company is prepared to take on diverse and challenging projects.”



“X columns were manufactured to tight tolerances – the care and attention to detail and consideration of reduced tolerances proved invaluable during the installation and meant the main contractor kept to the tight programme. During a visit to the workshop facilities to Techlam I managed to speak with several of the guys manufacturing the X-frames and was particularly impressed by the passion and genuine interest and pleasure they have in their work. This shines through in the production of a quality end product. One particular guy was posting pictures on his personal Facebook page on the work he was doing to create the X-frames.

Having the X-frames arrive to site as one complete X-frame rather than two pieces meant a much quicker installation time and could reduce the tolerances further. The collaboration between the steelwork subbie and Techlam was really good in this project. It meant that they could experiment with samples and prototypes in each other’s facilities to get the details right. By pre-assembling the X-frames and paying attention to the ‘kiss’ detail the finished product was really impressive. This type of collaboration was one of the best I have experienced and made for a much smoother dialogue and team approach to this aspect of the project.

Having the steel detailer draw up and produce the shop drawings for both the steel and the timber was a really good initiative. I am sure it saved time on unnecessary coordination / questions as the detailer already had an excellent awareness of the project and the steelwork requirement before he was commissioned to undertake the timber shop drawings. With such an integrated timber / steel structure this really paid dividends and I am sure cut down the shop drawing time.

Overall, we are pleased with end product and despite a couple of issues part way through the project, the results are excellent and something that the whole Techlam team can be proud of.

Steve Kemp, Senior Structural Engineer – BECA Wellington Office

Case Studies

Hobsonville Wharf

A new 70m long ferry wharf at Hobsonville Point constructed almost entirely of structural laminated timber with extensive detailing.

Aro Hā

A project undertaken by Techlam requiring the entire structure to be pre-assembled in the plant and assembled on site.

Pak n’ Save Covered Carpark

A large-scale project that required planning and close collaboration with the client’s architect and structural engineer.

Wellington Airport

Techlam NZ got involved at the tender stage of the project liaising with client Wellington International Airport, head contractor Hawkins Construction and architects Warren and Mahoney.

EIT Hawke’s Bay – Student Amenities Atrium

An impressive, large roof structure supported by Glulam ‘trees’, creating a sunny and spacious atrium for students.

Museum and Art Gallery

A project that required pre-cutting and slotting of curved timbers in NZ, then shipped and installed in Apia, Samoa.

Hodge Sports Centre / Scots College

The recreation facility building’s primary structure is complex curved Glulam portals forming two sides and covering a polycarbonate clad ‘shell’.

Chinese Methodist Church

A stunning rebuild for this Chinese Methodist Church in Christchurch.

Matakauri Lodge

Attention to detail paramount in this Queenstown 6-star luxury lodge.

CCCS Jubilee Church

Techlam became involved in this project early in 2015, and it was soon realised that the roof design was going to need a lot of changes to enable it to perform in the cyclone prone area.

Fiji Marriott Resort

The resort was in a less than half finished state, Techlam had to identify which parts of the structure had to be replaced, which parts could be kept and reinstated the remainder that had never been manufactured.


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