Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Architectures of Possibility

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posted on 2022-09-27, 10:02 authored by Belu, Anca

Architecture has a real and tangible psychological impact on its inhabitants and their emotions. This impact is felt universally, and generally people can analyse and be aware of the way a space makes them feel. Contemporary studies in the field of child psychology show that young children are not consciously critical of their surroundings, being primarily influenced subconsciously by the space around them.

However, the way children interact with space around them is vastly different to adults. Where adults view function and rules, children see ambiguity and possibility. Societal rules and labels are not a concept children inherently understand from an early age; the society they grow up in instils these rules over time. Due to this freedom, children view space around them as much more malleable to their needs, full of possibilities.

This thesis asks: how can adults experience the same freedom of interaction with architecture as children do, and how might this reorient space as an architecture of possibility?

These questions are addressed through iterative design research, with the thinking explored through speculative architectural projects at three scales: installation, mid-scale and large-scale. These scales allow for rigorous design exploration of the research question through progressively more complex architectural contexts. This also aligns with a child’s-eye view of space; as children experience different scale spaces in vastly different ways, the strategy of multiple scales allows the architectural speculations to explore this variance.

This research situates itself within contemporary literature on child psychology, drawing parallels to architectural theory. This connection is extensively researched, and parallels have been drawn that address issues of designing architecture for children, such as schools and kindergartens. This thesis however aims to create architecture for adults that incorporates child-like sensibilities and ways of viewing the world, a largely overlooked area of research. A speculative approach to this research allows the focus to be placed on the qualitative aspect of how children experience space and allows greater freedom for the architecture to delve into the psychological and subliminal factors.

Taking a design-led, speculative approach to a qualitative question results in the impossibility of scientifically proving success. Instead, this thesis will be a speculative enquiry, basing itself within existing research in the fields of both child and adult psychology and corporeal spatial perception. This research aims to contribute to the architecture discipline by rethinking spatial perceptions and understanding of space, and creating new architectures of possibility, by leveraging a child-eye view.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

280104 Expanding knowledge in built environment and design

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

4 Experimental research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture


Twose, Simon