EF Terminal Refurbishment Modernises Landmark Building

Essendon Fields Airport is the site of Melbourne’s first airport and was the city’s international airport until 1970. Today, it provides the infrastructure and operations for more than 50,000 aircraft movements per year, servicing the corporate and private jet, regional passenger transport and emergency services sectors.

The refurbishment of the existing terminal at Essendon Fields, which commenced construction in 2018, has been the culmination of reinvigorating this important historical landmark and aligning the airport operation with its evolving requirements.

JMA Architects, the team behind the terminal’s updated design ensured functionality for users was enhanced to meet the modern needs of the airport, whilst respecting its heritage status. This has seen major upgrades to the building heating and air-conditioning, passenger seating and check-in areas, introduction of mechanical baggage handling, and the creation of almost 1,000 sqm of new commercial office and retail space.

Associate Architect, Greg Wilson stated the focus of the new design was to make the building a destination rather than just a transient portal.

“The design had to take into consideration existing tenants, currently un-refurbished areas and consider the future stages that are set to inevitably follow.

“The building is heaped in history and features many design elements requiring protection and referencing including floor patterning, soaring ceiling and façade treatment. The new floor tiles replace in the same colour and pattern and the office pods don’t extend full height, letting the original ceiling float above in reference to the once large open halls,” Mr Wilson commented.

The project also considered the role the terminal building plays in the larger Essendon Fields precinct, which is one of Melbourne’s largest emerging master-planned commercial hubs, uniquely located on a 300Ha site within 13km of Melbourne’s CBD.

Essendon Fields CEO, Brendan Pihan stated: “This project is the perfect marriage of two important elements in Essendon Fields business, growing airport operations whilst creating some of Melbourne’s most unique office space in one of the city’s most culturally and historically significant buildings.”

In addition to the creation of 10 new tenancies, key cosmetic upgrades of the refurbishment include recladding the external façade in face brick to match the original aesthetic and creation of a new entrance, which provides greater accessibility and makes a statement with its airlock located closer to the street.

“The newly refurbished Essendon Fields airport terminal shows how a building of historical significance can survive the test of time and changing needs with subtle and tasteful design,” Mr Wilson concluded.