Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Blurring Binaries: A Queer Approach to Architecture

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Version 1 2021-11-22, 16:13
posted on 2021-11-22, 16:13 authored by Caldwell, Andrew Logan

Binary oppositions are a divisive force in social and physical space. This thesis engages the notion of heteronormativity as the primary source of binarism which oppresses expressive diversity of sexuality, gender and architecture. Queer, as the antithesis of binarism, is used as a process and as an action enacted through spatial design and experience to challenge normative assumptions in architecture. This thesis proposes a queer approach to design, questioning and blurring architectural binaries. A process of questioning, designing and reflecting – in non-linear, iterative, design-led research – establishes itself through three projects, each increasing in scale and complexity. For the purpose of clarity, the thesis is structured in a linear fashion: theoretical context and case study analysis is established before engaging with this design process at three scales – installation (breaking binaries), domestic (blending binaries) and public (blurring binaries) – followed by overall reflection. Primary modes of experimentation include analogue and digital drawing and modelling with photography as a method of documentation. This thesis concludes that, by focusing on modes of being and engagement, read and lived conditions combine in blurred non-binary experience. Blurring binaries enables people to engage their diverse subjectivities in space, making their space queer, instead of being defined by heteronormative social and architectural norms.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Master of Architecture (Professional)

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Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Smitheram, Jan