Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Skin to Skin: A Provocative Expression of the Dynamic Relationship Between the Surface of the Body and the Surface of Architecture

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posted on 2021-11-10, 22:23 authored by Ibbotson, Thomas

It can be argued that modern architecture has expelled the building’s relationship to the ground. Raised on pilotis, modern buildings constructed the platform as an artificial ground plane. Ultimately, the platform was a two-dimensional plane, flattened to aid our transition across the built environment. This horizontal plane merely tolerated inhabitation. Unfortunately the language synonymous with this plane has been extended into contemporary architecture. It is proposed that the rigidity and stability expressed by the surface of the horizontal plane has failed to reflect the body, stimulate interaction, or challenge the inhabitant of architecture. To free the horizontal plane from its rigid axis this thesis aims to break away from the conventional building typology inflicted by modern architecture. As the force of gravity restricts our inhabitation of the built environment to the horizontal plane we directly engage with this surface of architecture. It provokes the question, how can the design of the horizontal plane engage the body and challenge the inhabitant to intensify the experience of architecture? An exploration of the skin-to-skin relationship between the surface of the body and the surface of architecture directs this thesis toward a provocative design exploration and evokes an expressive horizontal plane. To challenge the restrictive conception of architecture’s horizontal plane the program of inhabitation for this design project explores the practice of yoga. Now conceived as a dynamic force, the body can be activated by architecture’s horizontal plane. This surface provides an expressive canvas with the capacity to embody the dynamic movements of yoga. It aids, activates and challenges the participant’s body and amplifies the experience of yoga. An expressive horizontal plane, central to the inhabitation of a yoga centre, generates a dynamic space that provokes a dialogue of interaction between the inhabitant and the surface of architecture. A dynamic plane has emerged.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Campays, Philippe