Influx: Architecture responsive to conditions of flux
Milford Sound is extremely vulnerable to visitor fluctuation. The vertical landforms and pristine natural landscape attracts over 500,000 tourists to the site each year. Due to the remote location and restrictions on developing accommodation in National Parks, Milford Sound is a day-trip-destination. This generates high volumes of tourists that arrive and leave at the same time, causing congestion and immense pressure on the facilities and the surrounding natural landscape at Milford Sound Village. Although the small township is built for visitors, the current visitor facilities do not respond to daily and seasonal visitor fluctuations. The buildings are at capacity at peak time and are empty and underutilised at low times. This has significant implications for the experience of the site, there are increasing reports of visitors feeling crowded (Booth, 2010). The unresponsive built fabric also impacts the state of the surrounding natural environment by preventing natural processes and ecosystems from thriving. With visitor numbers on the rise (McNeill,2005), Carey (2003) questions how many people can “they continue to pump into a destination before you start to remove the attraction from the destination”. Situated alongside resilience thinking, flux is a topic of heightened relevance within architectural thinking, yet it has received very little attention. This thesis proposes responsive approaches to accommodating flux, through ‘static’ architectural forms. By introducing a series of hybrid and connected structures, architectural form is developed symbiotically with function, as a means of exploring operative forms of architecture. Architectural responses to flux have been primarily researched through design. The design outcome is a connected network of visitor facilities that acts as an ‘instrument’ in the landscape, reorganising the flow of visitors. Six concrete pavilions, connected by pathways, collect and disperse visitors along the site, encouraging an immersion experience in the World-Heritage listed natural environment. The architecture is constructed of buried, floating, carved and balanced elements. This thesis presents an example of architecture that creates an experience of engaging with the landscape and not with the crowds.