Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Camouflage--Architecture: Testing the Architectural Application of Neil Leach’s Camouflage Theory as a Model of Place-Identity

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posted on 2023-03-14, 23:29 authored by McLauchlan, Ben

Discussion within architectural Place–identity theory has taken a shift. It has moved toward a more fluid condition. With traditional structures of identity holding less value to society, and imagery becoming more prevalent, new models of Place–identity are necessary. This is relative to a decreasing Nationalist view point and an increasing critique of the Post–Modern. Neil Leach, through his theory Camouflage, offers a way to rethink our relationship with Place. Camouflage describes the application of aesthetics as a tool. This becomes important when it is used to form a relationship between the self and Place. The research presented here tests the architectural application of Leach’s theory. This is done by the design of a building for the International Institute of Modern Letters in New Zealand. The design is broken into four components, concentrating on four key areas of the theory. Rather than looking at the building as a whole object, the skin and the planning of the building test the concepts of the visual image and inherent engagement this calls for. The strategic idea of becoming other is studied through the design of a writer’s studio and a theatre. These ideas work together in the design of the roof as an aesthetic interface. This architectural design is critiqued against Leach’s theoretical context and the building’s environment—against Place. Camouflage architecture sees the building itself become a background element. The focus shifts toward how the users of the building might accumulate identifications through the somatic relationships that the building facilitates. The results of this application are presented as an architectural explanation of Camouflage. This is further distilled into a doctrine of Place–identity. These conclusions offer a model for the application of Camouflage architecturally. More importantly they show how this application benefits the shift in Place–identity theory and practice.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


de Sylva, Shenuka