Permanence in Architecture: Is it Relevant? How is Relative Permanence Attainable Now?
The typical New Zealand dwelling, which is built in timber and often lightly anchored to site, arguably appears impermanent. This research reviews the idea and relevance of permanence in architecture. It considers symbolic persistence, the durability of architecture on thought and memory, permanence of function and space, architecture as event, reification and sustainability as they relate to permanence. Permanence is related to durability and durability is explored in terms of resistance to decay, and also its value to the user. It looks in particular at mass, materials and detail; and additionally at the requirement for flexibility in design to achieve durability of use. Case studies of buildings displaying differing aspirations to permanence are reviewed in terms of durability and analysed using the three components of durability - mass, material and detail. This thesis tests permanence through the design of a dwelling to last and be relevant for 400 years. It finds constructing dwellings for relative permanence as a relevant, sustainable and entirely possible option.