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Playful Assembly

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posted on 24.08.2021, 21:00 by Lewis, Rebecca

Porirua is a small city I lived in from the age of ten to sixteen. It is the home to Wellington region’s best indoor go-karting track and fallen victim to urban sprawl. The first of four of my homes in this area was in the newly developed Aotea block and at the time it was the first house on the street. My four year old brother would sit and watch diggers and tractors all day, and in the afternoon we climbed them. All this destruction was intensely entertaining to a child. The devastation hit when the neighbour’s house got built, along with the rest of the street, in what felt like a week. Just like that, the glory days were over. We moved a couple years after this closer into the Whitby community. Aotea development was so new all it had was houses, I wouldn’t even call them homes. My mum got sick of travelling to Whitby all the time for milk and so on, so we eventually moved closer to the town. I could walk or bike to and from school. It was all so close; the dairy, friends’ houses, football park, playground, skatepark, everything! The glory days were back and better than ever.

This move into an established community felt more like home. The simple rituals of walking to the dairy to get milk (and a lolly bag) became something I regularly enjoyed. The accessibility of amenities gave me independence and made life easier. The ‘home’ broke through the boundaries of the house and into the park, the biked streets and the football pitch. If one can feel at home within a whole community then why build new houses separate from established towns? All on their lonesome, dependent on cars and with diggers for neighbours.

This thesis re-conceives Porirua as a playful assembly. With an emphasis on cultural wealth, this process establishes an architectural language promoting Porirua’s development towards a creative city. Cultural wealth is a term which gives priority to the cultural layer of the city, it emphasises creation rather than consumption. Creativity sits at the heart of this layer making it a crucial element of the creative city. The wealth of culture in Porirua comes from its depth of diversity; in Maori, Pasifika and Pakeha and others coming together. While the specific cultures aren’t emphasised, the importance lies within this diversity. This is one of the reasons I chose the Porirua CBD as the site for my thesis.

My playful process crosses paths with art, architecture and urban perspectives to develop a visual language emphasising creation within the city. The search for my own creative voice lends itself to the importance of self-expression within the city. Through this thesis work, I wanted to encourage people to more openly produce self-expressive work. I recognise that the city already has these processes and the products and processes of my creative voice target the creation of these spaces giving them priority and emphasis in the city. This thesis aims to create a welcoming, inclusive environment for people to create. Within the urban realm an alternative view is presented holding creativity at the heart of the city rather than economy.


Advisor 1

Kebbell, Sam

Advisor 2

Hopewell, Hannah

Copyright Date


Date of Award



Victoria University of Wellington - Te Herenga Waka

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Victoria University of Wellington - Te Herenga Waka

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture