Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Intangible Borders: Architectural Negotiations in Cross Cultural Contexts

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posted on 2022-07-28, 04:24 authored by Everitt, Benjamin

The way in which people inhabit, interact, and perceive spaces are heavily influenced by, but not limited to their cultural identity. As the ethnic demographics of cities continue to diversify, there is a growing need for public space and infrastructure to be accessible, and representative of a wide range of cultures.

However, the role that architecture plays in the cultural representation of cities is often misleading. Architecture within a globalised world often place great emphasis on symbolism as a means to represent cultural identity. When either national or cultural identity is represented through architecture, many architectural gestures can lead to misinterpretation, or a complete misrepresentation of identity.

This research, positioned around contemporary cross cultural architectural theory, is focused on architectural methods to negotiate the social values, activities, and behaviours of a foreign culture, within the poetics that define the absolute core of the local sense of place.

This is the design process of spatially negotiating cultural boundaries, and blurring the encounters between multiple cultural identities that are physically manifested within tangible places. The role of the final design does not aim to pose itself as an ideological representation of New Zealand that is expected of a conventional embassy design. Moreover this is not an attempt to find a convenient coming together of eastern and western cultural identity. This is however a proposal designed to accommodate for the ambiguity of subjective, individual identities within cross cultural contexts. Such that, the series of spaces developed in this research cater for the globalist New Zealand diaspora, and local Japanese inhabitants; who have to negotiate the multicultural, spatial and temporal boundaries within the urban patterns of Tokyo.

This was achieved through the spatial relationships built between individual rituals, and a poetic use of place conscious tectonics. An iterative design process has developed spaces that appropriately transition between the freely accessible public interfaces of the street, into the innermost private spaces catered for intimate cultural rituals. The degree of privacy was influenced by urban spatial patterns such as ‘ma’, and ‘oku’, within Tokyo that fundamentally defined the local sense of place.


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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)

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified

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Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



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Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Gjerde, Morten