Meaning in Landscape Architecture: Negotiating Identity in a Landscape of Local and National Significance
This thesis develops a landscape architectural approach to the design of meaning in locally and nationally significant spaces. It begins with an emerging contemporary trend: nationally significant sites that are ignored and reduced in importance by the changing, fluid urban landscapes that surround them. Adelaide Road, in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, is the site of Government House, the National War Memorial and the Basin reserve. These three nationally significant colonial icons suffer from lack of connection to their urban context, and thus this site is used as design case study. The thesis first develops a position on the expression of meaning through architectural form, particularly the meaning of national identity in capital cities. The expression of meaning in architecture is hindered by problems to do with the cultural context the sites are found within. Cultural shifts quickly move on from original designed meaning, leaving only culturally ingrained meaning. For nationally significant sites to remain relevant they need to become used, active parts of the urban landscape, so that layers of meaning and identity can accumulate within them. To situate the thesis in the context of Aotearoa-New Zealand, cultural traditions to do with sense of belonging to the landscape are used to establish a base set of values on which to base a design methodology. Landscape, particularly the natural landscape, has become a cliché expression of New Zealand national identity, to the detriment of urban landscapes. The design methodology uses landscape architecture theory to draw together Māori and Pākehā landscape values and apply them to the complex problems of an urban site. The design outcome frames the re-connection of Government House, the War Memorial and the Basin Reserve to the urban landscape within the cultural context of Aotearoa-New Zealand.