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Phi: Designing Wellington Zoo in Harmony with Nature

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posted on 2021-11-11, 23:50 authored by Brown, Logan S

The harmonious balance of architecture and nature is undermined by their mutual struggle for control. Their corrosive relationship directly leads to the degradation and displacement of natural ecosystems through economic development, of which modern society is fundamentally reliant. To preserve Earth’s ecology and biodiversity for future generations, architecture needs to become symbiotic with nature. As Adolf Zeising speculated the ratio Phi (the Golden Section) to be the morphological law of nature, this thesis investigates whether its principles can help generate symbiotic architecture. This thesis investigates the historical perception of how Phi relates to nature, and applies its core principles to the development of Wellington Zoo’s ‘Welcome Plaza’. The investigation of Phi finds symbolism to be of central importance reflecting the ancient Pythagorean conception of Aether, later conceived as the medium of electromagnetic fields. The design basis of the Welcome Plaza utilises that which the ratio symbolises, being the Aether and its correlated electromagnetic qualities, rather than deriving its architectural form from the Phi ratio itself. The impact of the Welcome Plaza’s generated form, upon the ecological value of the site, determines the appropriateness of the principles of Phi as a design mechanism. This thesis determines whether the principles ascribed to Phi can be used as a design methodology to generate Wellington Zoo’s Welcome Plaza in a way that is harmonious with nature.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Master of Architecture (Professional)

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Wong, Linda