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A Third Space: Architecture Through a Lens of Decolonisation

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posted on 01.08.2021, 23:34 by Tuckey, Ellie

In Aotearoa New Zealand our history of colonisation means that Western structures imbue all areas of our lives and the world in which we live is based upon Western ideologies. In its many states – buildings, space, process and theory – architecture holds an important role in society as a physical and abstract framework that structures the ways in which we live. Architects have the agency and power to represent identity in built form and this places responsibility on them to ensure that the values and worldviews of others are represented genuinely.

This thesis explores how architects (particularly Pākehā) can enable Third Space in the design process. Third Space is the culmination of a theoretical framework that examines decolonisation, architecture and identity, and design process. It is a figurative environment in which contributors from different backgrounds can bring forth ideas, values and opinions to be meaningfully discussed and valued. A flexible strategy – informed by ‘a kind of Kaupapa Pākehā way’ and participatory action research methodologies – utilises immersive tools such as PC games, virtual and augmented realities to explore the catalysation of Third Space in three projects. The first two projects resulted in the development of two different PC games that aimed to aid the architect’s collaboration with Christchurch and Kiribati youth respectively. The lessons learnt from these two incubator projects were brought into the third project which explored decolonising education with Ngāti Toa rangatahi.

This research found that for meaningful discussion and negotiation to occur in this conceptual Third Space, there needs to be a balance of power and agency between designers and community end-users. It found that high-quality relationships based on the concept of Third Space can be enabled through greater spatial understanding, something that can be supported by visuospatial languages such as computer games and immersive virtual and augmented reality experiences. This is represented in a collaboratively developed process with fellow student Mitra Homolja and called A Mana ki te Mana Process.


Advisor 1

Kiddle, Rebecca

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Date of Award



Victoria University of Wellington - Te Herenga Waka

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Author Retains Copyright

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Degree Grantor

Victoria University of Wellington - Te Herenga Waka

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Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

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Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture