Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Just a Hunch: Reading, Writing, ... and Architecture

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posted on 2021-11-10, 23:59 authored by Simms, Elspeth Jane

Victor Hugo’s character, Claude Frollo, expressed Hugo’s linguistic analogy for architecture in his novel of 1831, Notre-Dame de Paris. Frollo directs the eyes of his companions from the book resting on his desk to the shadow of the nearby Notre-Dame cathedral, stating: ‘This will kill that’. Hugo expressed the belief that prior to the printing press, the communication of mankind occurred through architecture. His concern was for the fate of architecture following the invention of a new form of communication; the printed text. This thesis questions the concern that print will ‘kill’ architecture through an exploration of architectural research and design led by text. A validity of print as an experimental tool for architectural design is established through a range of output; visual and physical expression, creative writing, and formal writing. These design modes reveal unique architecture from within Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris. The outcomes of this research draw attention to the imaginative possibilities that text provides for architecture. It finds that architecture exists within text and allows for interpretation and conversion, into both real and imagined space. It provides a framework through which this can occur within other text, not just Notre-Dame de Paris. The conclusion is reached that text is a design tool which offers significant opportunities to the experimentation and design of architecture.


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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


Wood, Peter