Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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An Atmospheric Surface

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This thesis considers how to use atmosphere as a driver when designing to strengthen the relationship between the body and architecture. Wigley, following Semper, argues that atmosphere is constructed through the outer surface. Surface is used as a key element in architectural practice to contribute to the overall atmospheric conditions within architecture, to influence the way an occupant experiences space. To strengthen the relationship between the body and the built, this thesis looks at the surface of architecture to explore ‘how atmosphere can be designed for through a kinetic surface’. This thesis begins with a theoretical review of atmosphere and surface, along with case study research that contributes to the thesis exploration through design research. This thesis consists of three design outputs that test the kinetic surface at three increasing scales to engage the body. These design outputs include an installation, a house and a public building with each design increasing in complexity. While primarily focusing on the atmosphere produced through surface, these experiments also deal with site and programmatic constraints. This thesis concludes with an architectural strategy of using a double layered kinetic surface in a public building to create atmosphere that forms a strong relationship with the body, through light, movement and materiality.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

CC BY-ND 4.0

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Smitheram, Jan; Twose, Simon