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At the Edge: Rethinking Place and Identity in the Context of Wellington's South Coast

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posted on 27.09.2021, 21:36 by Walker, Kirsty
With rapid growth and urbanisation, there is increasing pressure to develop and occupy New Zealand’s coastal edge. In turn, we are seeing naturally dynamic environments collide with static developments, as contemporary architecture converges on universality – becoming uniform, monotone, placeless. Not only does this highlight a clear ‘disconnect’ between architecture and place, but it also threatens to weaken the very connection formed between architecture and its inhabitants.

This research, therefore, seeks to strengthen the connection between people and place, through an architectural response that helps to negotiate a dynamic coastal environment and developing urban context, basing the research around the specificity of Wellington’s South Coast.

The method taken demonstrates both a poetic and pragmatic approach to design, whereby abstracted ideas of ‘embodiment’ and ‘time’ are tested against more tangible factors relating to coastal change and coastal development. The research sets out to develop a strong understanding of the different factors that contribute to the South Coast’s unique identity, using this to inform design decisions that further enrich identity of ‘place.’ At the same time, it investigates how architecture might engage with the dynamics present at site to both enhance and intensify the human experience.

This research ultimately leads to a proposed redevelopment of the Island Bay Marine Education Centre – a design response that negotiates its surroundings, allows for change, and enhances connection to ‘place.’


Advisor 1

Campays, Philippe

Copyright Date


Date of Award



Victoria University of Wellington - Te Herenga Waka

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Victoria University of Wellington - Te Herenga Waka

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

Wellington School of Architecture