Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Atmospheric Perceptions in the Making:  An Exploration of the Implications of the Immateriality of Climate on Our Perception of Space and in Its Making

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posted on 2021-11-11, 21:54 authored by Benton, Delle

“[...] climate can replace typology, function, and form of what we use and define as architecture” (Rahm, 2008: accessed 11th March 2010, ). To what extent should we consider the invisible atmospheric conditions in the design process of architecture? This project will explore the implications of the immateriality of climate on both perception of space and in its making. The immaterial and material in architecture have long been regarded as a dichotomy; an opposing of ideas between governing architectural theory and practice. The immaterial is a popular discussion within contemporary architectural literature, yet has evidently not fully impacted within practice. Built examples of the immaterial remain few. Those that have been implemented have tended towards the temporal in nature, existing in the mode of installations or exhibitions, such as Diller + Scofidio’s Blur Pavillion, with its harnessing of misty atmospheric conditions (Diller & Scofidio, 1994). This research will firstly necessitate an exploration of the effect of atmospheric conditions (such as heat, light, humidity, sound, smell, taste, air movement) on spatial perception. This study refers to the immaterial in terms of such conditions and looks at the impact they can have on experience of space. It is noteworthy that many artworks, such as that of Olafur Eliasson, explore ideas of affective atmospheres “as an agent of human experience and social action, prompting a subjective transformation” (Frichot, 2008: p. 31), suggesting that these environments can transform perception. This research will secondly experiment with scenarios of dis-location where specific atmospheric conditions will be relocated to a site in which they might otherwise be foreign. This will be done in view of testing the qualities of the atmospheric that impact on perception and to challenge the notion of enhancement, detraction and of provocation of mood. It is anticipated that the research will provoke the design of a series of experimental works which will lead to a process of translation from discourse to installation to architecture through the development of design tools and strategies. Together with supporting theory, this will form an inquiry as to what extent we should consider the invisible atmospheric conditions in the design process of architecture.


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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)

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Campays, Philippe