Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Diagrams in Architecture: An Examination of Diagram Based Design Methods in Contemporary Urban Architecture Projects

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Version 2 2022-03-21, 01:17
Version 1 2021-11-12, 10:14
posted on 2022-03-21, 01:17 authored by Shields, Fraser

This research explores the relationship between the use of diagrams in architectural production and an architectural outcome which redefines conventional relationships between urban built form and open space. Several prominent architecture practices whose design methodologies are based extensively on diagrams produce architectural outcomes which relate to their surrounding physical context in unusual ways, presenting alternative solutions to conventional urban design principles and representing an emerging trend in urban design. A variety diagram types are utilised in different ways in the design processes of these key 'diagrammatic' practices. Design proposals responding to the same brief examine the architectural and urban design outcomes of different types of diagram use. Two different diagrammatic design methodologies are executed, producing two design proposals for a complex mixed use development in central Wellington. Each diagrammatic design methodology has different implications for the relationships between built form and open space by emphasising different factors in the design process and progressing differently from diagram into built form. One method emphasises continuity and connection, thereby minimising the typical distinctions between built form and open space. The other method emphasises a strict functional logic to produce unusual programmatic organisations which create ambiguity between the building's inside and outside. Instrumentalising diagrams in the design process aids in the management of the project's complexities, allows the design to develop in an abstract manner, and presents the often unusual design outcomes on the basis of an underlying functional logic, thereby providing a significant contribution to the realisation of new architectural and urban design solutions.


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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

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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


McDonald, Chris