Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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A permanent tent: A retrospective and reconsideration of the A-Frame Chalet in New Zealand

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posted on 2021-11-22, 20:32 authored by Svendsen, Callan

The mid twentieth century A-Frame chalet holds a special place in the memories of generations of New Zealanders. Reminiscent of summer and winter getaways, it is perhaps the most poignant architectural representation of leisure and relaxation.  The novelty of unconventional sleeping arrangements, intimate spatial dynamics and the somewhat ephemeral nature of the typology combined to imbue the A-Frame with a strong emotional association. This research intends to harness the nostalgic connotations and use this, along with contemporary interior architectural theory, to reinterpret the A-Frame as a relevant form of accommodation suitable for twenty-first century vacationers and permanent inhabitants alike.  Early New Zealand A-Frames were supplied as kit sets to be erected by owners with rudimentary knowledge of construction techniques. This ‘low-end’ means of arrival, understandable given the purpose of the dwelling, resulted in a typology that was regarded as a lesser relative to the primary (and more conventional) home. Awkward interior spaces were regarded as novel and tolerable for the duration of the vacation.  There is limited academic publication on the A-Frame Chalet and its place in New Zealand architectural history. The aim of this research is to identify the key proponents of the style and use this as a base for a modern reinterpretation encompassing spatial and material issues.  The modern tendency toward compact housing and preservation of architecturally distinctive buildings favours a new appreciation of the A-Frame. A reevaluation will address limitations of the original and re-interpret the A-Frame from nostalgic novelty to spatially responsive contemporary architecture.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Interior Architecture

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Interior Architecture

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970112 Expanding Knowledge in Built Environment and Design

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


MacKay, Christina