Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Staging Tourism: Performing Place

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posted on 2022-07-28, 01:43 authored by Boyd, Giuseppina

This thesis examines the relationship between architecture and the tourist experience. In architecture, an understanding of the active tourist body is underdeveloped as visuality is often positioned as the dominant mode of analysing tourism. This thesis mobilizes the tourist by recognising a paradigmatic shift from the ‘gaze’ towards the ‘performance turn’ which privileges the multisensuous experiences of the tourist engaged with architecture. The thesis investigates how architecture can stage and amplify the performances of tourists in order to produce place, en route. To test this enquiry, a ‘design through research’ methodology is employed where the design proposition is developed through iterative design experiments. Within each experiment, drawing, physical modelling, collage and digital modelling are utilised to explore the dynamic relationship between architecture and tourists. Carried out alongside the design process, a comparative literature review and case study analysis provide a theoretical framework to support ‘design through research’. The design proposition is explored across three increasing scales, progressing the research through stages of development and refinement. In these three investigations the site of experimentation shifts from an installation to the domestic scale, through to the public scale. The first experiment engages with the human scale to mobilise a conceptual understanding of place through a 1:1 installation. The next experiment amplifies the domestic and exotic aspects of performing tourism through the design of a hotel. In the final experiment, the design of an artificial island stages the public performances of tourists of tourists, who produce place en route. This thesis concludes that while tourists performances are staged by architecture, tourists produce place through their individual and collective performances, indicating that neither tourism nor place are merely products, but part of a process.


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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


Smitheram, Jan