Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Sampling the City

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posted on 2022-07-28, 03:02 authored by Evans, Morgan

This thesis developed a speculative design process that sits between two streams of contemporary discourse. On one side lies ‘projective’ architecture—characterised by the elevation of performance and rejection of criticality—which draws from Somol & Whiting’s divisive paper “The Doppler Effect and Other Moods of Modernism” (Somol & Whiting, 2002). This model can be used to describe the contemporary work produced by international firms such as OMA and BIG (Spencer, 2016). On the other side are contemporary critiques of this model: broad denunciations that the rejection of critical engagement has failed to deliver on its promises of providing architecture an increased sphere of influence. Douglas Spencer argues that architecture has been made complicit in the perpetuation of existing power structures, saying the projective project has been “worked over until it can be put to work for new-liberalism” (2016). This thesis investigated sampling as a method of design that could confound the market logic that Spencer sees at the core of the projective project, whilst still leaning upon several core tenets that were originally proposed in Somol & Whiting’s 2002 paper, namely: A shift from the index to diagram, and a belief that a projective architecture is capable of generating alternative social/spatial relationships. To engage with this topic a design as research method will be employed. Murray Fraser describes design research as a method of inquiry where a series of architectural projects are placed in partnership with more general research activities (2013, p. 1). This thesis was structured around projects at three scales: installation, domestic, and urban. These inquiries formed the backbone of the thesis, each stage informing the next. The installation investigated the diagram as the generator of form, whilst the domestic scale focussed on the manipulation of urban form into new structures. Finally, at the public scale, the diagrammatic techniques of scaling and superposition (Eisenman, 1999) were used to tease form and program from a rigorous site analysis. In conclusion my design research investigated the technique of sampling and positioned it in relation to contemporary architectural discourse. Through a series of scaled inquiries, the sample was used as a tool to engage with site, program, and the design process. These inquiries demonstrated the potential of sampling as a method of disrupting the smoothness of the projective, via the injection of outside data into the architectural project.


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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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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


Twose, Simon