thesis_access.pdf (34.29 MB)
Download file

Assimilation of the Lost Site: Establishing Architectural Identity on Sites Defined by Conflicting Grids and Conflicting Programmatic Typologies

Download (34.29 MB)
posted on 12.11.2021, 23:31 by Bakshi, Sunil

The contemporary urban dilemma of the ‘lost site’ has arisen due to the ever-increasing density of our urban environments, where boundaries of contrasting urban contextual grid conditions overlap, forming pocket sites that ultimately must respond to multiple grids yet belong to none. These lost sites are the sites trapped by opposing contextual constraints, needing to respond to multiple and often conflicting conditions and as such ameliorating the architect’s ability to provide them with a single unique sense of holistic identity. This research investigates approaches for the design of these lost sites, particularly when they must not only respond to multiple grid conditions, but are also required to engage multiple diverse programs and reflect conflicting programmatic typologies. The vehicle for this design research investigation will be the actual site and program for the proposed new New Zealand School of Music on Jack Ilott Green in the northeast corner of Wellington’s Civic Square. As an example of a ‘lost site’, this site must establish a public identity that responds to its principal frontage Jervois Quay and the Harbour, while simultaneously resolving and responding to a civic identity required by Civic Square and a more local identity required by Harris Street. The program must establish an academic identity as a music school, while simultaneously establishing civic identity as a public concert hall on Civic Square in conjunction with Capital E, Michael Fowler Centre, Town Hall, City Council, Public Library, and City Gallery. The thesis argues that architecture on ‘lost sites’ can be conceived as a metaphorical ‘joint’ as a means of responding to opposing site and program conditions. The thesis argues that architecture's potential to be manifested as a joint can be strategically used as a viable means of addressing lost sites. This approach further suggests that a building on a lost site can be conceived as having multiple ‘front’ façades – each expressing identity in response to a different set of contextual and programmatic conditions. The thesis tests how this approach might enable architecture to establish a holistic identity upon an urban ‘lost site’, even with each of its façades needing to engage a different identity.Recent demographic shifts which involve more families living in New Zealand’s urban centres have led to an ever-increasing density of our urban environments. The denser the urban environment becomes, the greater the number of ‘lost sites’ begin to emerge. Most buildings address this dilemma by either considering only one dominant set of conditions, or by being conceived as an ‘object in a field’ which actively denies the contextual conditions. These complex sites are an urban and architectural issue in need of active critical resolution. This thesis explores how such diverse opposing requirements can be resolved holistically while establishing unique identities for each set of unique site conditions.


Copyright Date


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

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Brown, Daniel