Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Opus Oppidum: Research for architecture, research beyond the city

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posted on 2021-11-22, 08:49 authored by Urquhart, Breanna

Metropolises around the globe continue on the path of relentless growth under the extreme forces of urbanisation, whilst the provinces are neglected. This design-led research builds on recent discussions concerning New Zealand’s regional inequality and decline, calling upon the critical role of architecture. It asks, what about the small towns? What about the non-city?   The research presented in this thesis was deployed through a dual inquiry; Firstly, it explores the emergent rurban context of the non-city as architecture’s project; Secondly, it seeks to reveal methods for architecture’s critical engagement as a catalyst towards regional transformation and prosperity.   An uninhabited ‘buffer zone’ between Port Otago and the township of Port Chalmers is presented as the rurban context for architecture’s project. Developed in parallel to the design inquiry, the theoretical framework discusses new critical urban theory, arguing for a new lens to which design methods and experiments within form and field can be tested. The dual inquiry reveals strategies and tactics towards a transformative rurbanism equating to the final design proposition: Opus Oppidum: A possible armature.   The conglomeration of the final design proposition, theoretical framework and exploration of design method, form a body of work that establishes the rurban condition (the non-city) as a place that desperately needs architecture’s critical engagement, and a place that is critical for the discipline of architecture.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

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Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Southcombe, Mark