Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Red Lights

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posted on 2022-07-28, 03:40 authored by Adams-Winch, Riley

People have a tricky relationship with sex. Where, when, how, and with whom we have sex is as much a product of social convention as biological necessity. New Zealand has been legally progressive in enabling its economic practice, but culturally puritanical in how we treat those who make use of that legal protection. The result of this is a stigma surrounding the purchase of sex, sex-work, and the architecture associated with it. This thesis asks how architectural design and representation can challenge sex-work stigma. It explores the spatiality, forms and the drawing of sex-work architecture and makes subtle, often satirical inflections, through design research, stigma as a spatial and representational phenomenon is explored and critiqued, leading to a strong challenge to norms of sex-work stigma. The design research is conducted at three different scales, through a series of design experiments. These allow stigma to be tested at individual, group, and societal scales, and lead to three distinct architectural propositions: an installation which uses architectural drawing to question social conventions; a brothel is designed which confronts public perceptions of sex-work; and a red-light district is mapped out that enables safe, educated, and legally sound participation in the sex industry. The aim is to produce architecture that resists sex-work stigma as well as enabling and supporting community driven resistance and activism against it.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

940116 Social Class and Inequalities

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Twose, Simon