Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Enhancing Social Dynamism in Interior Architecture through the Use of Social Friction

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posted on 2021-11-10, 09:45 authored by Kachwalla, Nazia

This thesis views urban design as a discipline that influences social patterns and interaction by using design elements to provide for different types of social connections. It studies the phenomenon of "social friction", a term coined by Richard Sennett in 1971, as a productive mechanism for social interaction in the urban context. The aim of the thesis is to explore whether urban design models to promote social friction are valid for interior architecture, and if so, to consider how social friction might positively inform the level of social dynamism in large public buildings. Since the 1960s urban theorists like Jane Jacobs, Christopher Alexander and others discuss urban elements within overlapping city structures that facilitate social interaction between the different social groups. Critical characteristics of successful urban structures recognise this system of overlap or exchange as a positive contribution to the social life in a city. Permeable boundaries, spatial adjacencies of different functions, the composition of new and old architecture on the same footpath, etc. are seen to establish activity flows between various categories of people. The ability of urban design to affect the social dynamism in any area is seen in this thesis as an opportunity to be exploited by the discipline of interior architecture. The thesis studies various elements that create an overlapping system within the city structure to enhance social interaction. During such a study it discovers three different social friction types: manipulated friction, visual friction and indirect friction. Each of these is seen to create different types of connections between diverse social groups. The thesis then analyses interior architectural elements which have similar characteristics and explains how they become mechanisms that can manipulate social friction when used in the interior setting of large public buildings like museums, libraries and airports. Traditional interior architectural circulatory elements and spatial elements are analysed with a view to determine the level and type of social interaction they allow. The study of the urban context enables such an analysis of the interior elements in terms of social interaction and the type of social friction they create.


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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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Degree Name

Master of Architecture

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


McCarthy, Christine; Brown, Daniel K.