Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Interior Architecture: An Empathetic Approach.

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posted on 2022-09-09, 00:30 authored by Greer, Taylor

This study explores the role of ‘empathy’ in commercial Interior Architecture design. Topics of phenomenology, sensory experience of space, and design representation are analysed to develop a design approach relative to brand identity and local vernacular. This includes key research preoccupations including reinterpretation and adoption of select precedents’ use of style, form, materiality, lighting and colour within an interior, in an attempt to ensure the final design outcome embodies a sense of ‘empathy’.

Each topic is researched through formal experimentation. This includes literature review, digital modelling and drawing. Design outputs are continuously analysed and recorded, framed carefully and clearly utilised.

The result presents a proposal for an interior fit-out for the clothing brand Zambesi, located at 107 Customhouse Quay, Wellington. The design revealed that an empathetic approach to designing a commercial interior ensures a stylistically informed atmosphere that successfully emotionally and physically connects with its inhabitants.

The result establishes that the most important variables within an empathetic approach are attention to the bodily and emotive response to the built environment, purposeful reference to local vernacular, and abstraction or reinterpretation of composition of architectural elements. This asserts the importance of design awareness and sensitivity, critical thinking, design communication and representation towards designing a meaningful space.

In conjunction with this, the outcome inverts our usual modes of spatial understanding and highlights the urgency for solutions to our current disposition of commercial interiors, as they lack any substantial attempt to create meaningful and connective spaces.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Interior Architecture

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Interior Architecture

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

280104 Expanding knowledge in built environment and design

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

1 Pure basic research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture


Skinner, Robin