Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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A Home-Like Urbanity: designing urban architecture through spatial intimacies of home in Aotearoa New Zealand

posted on 2022-11-11, 21:39 authored by Meyer-Knight, Harriet

In Aotearoa, home is a very deeply held concept. It colours our understanding of architecture, causes our cities to stretch across the landscape, and is perhaps why our cities, when viewed from afar, are curiously un-urban. This paper reports on design research into spatial intimacies of home/ kāinga and how they are embedded into Aotearoa NZ urban architecture.

The research attempts to intensify this curious condition through a series of projects. The projects delve into our home-like understanding of architecture, focussing on spatial intimacy, and progress from the scale of the body to domestic scale, to exploring home-like intimacies at the scale of the city. The research is supported by work on atmosphere (Zumthor, Bohme), new materialisms (Bruno, Bennett, Ahmed) spatial imagination (Van Schaik), and embodiment (Peri-Bader). The work begins with a spatial installation, testing interwoven intimacies of body, material and threshold. The intention is to promote a shared agency between the occupant, space and the architectural object. The results of this first stage inform the design of a series of architectural interventions, situated in an Aotearoa city, interrogating this ‘agency’ with an urban frame of reference. In this, the smaller public spaces are used as vehicle to distil and intensify spatial intimacy at a larger scale. The research culminates in the design of a large scale urban public building. This project takes the results from the previous scales of design research and scales up in size and urban function. A public building is designed, situated in an Aotearoa city, which intensifies home-like spatial intimacy, enriching urban architecture with personal, emotive atmospheres of home.

The contribution of this research is in three areas: it adds to understandings of the spatial intimacy of home, how home-like intimacy can project to and enrich urban architecture, and ultimately, it provides insights into the deep entanglement of home and the Aotearoa New Zealand city.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

Victoria University of Wellington Unit

University Library

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

139999 Other culture and society not elsewhere classified

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

1 Pure basic research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Alternative Language


Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture


Twose, Simon