Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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State of Flux: Rescuing Nelson's Waterfront

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posted on 2021-11-15, 21:40 authored by Macquet, Jason

The neglected coastal edge of the port landscape has left behind unreceptive scars on the city’s urban fabric. These prominent locations are pivotal links between coastal towns and the sea; they are currently in very poor condition.¹ This thesis explores a site with these characteristics, Nelson, nestled between the Southern Alps at the top of New Zealand’s South Island. The compact and intimate geography of the Nelson region is surrounded by the ocean; with the city growing central to its port. Due to the once thriving local exports and industrial trade the port hastily expanded, the inevitable decline of the industrial era has resulted in a landscape of disregard which has distanced the city from the water. These neglected waterfront locations now taint the pristine image of the Nelson Haven.  This thesis examines how a carefully considered architectural design can reintegrate this pivotal location back into the city’s urban fabric while reinforcing the relationship between the people of Nelson and the water. This design-led research utilises the sport of rowing with its link to the water as the catalyst to reconnect the people of Nelson to the waterfront and the water itself.  This design-led thesis employs the ideologies of atmospheric experiences to materialise the importance of water to sense of place. This is achieved by exploiting the atmospheric experiences of material, space and time through an architectural dialogue with the water’s duality. The Nelson Haven experiences vast tidal movements which forms the foundations for the experience observed at the interface of architecture and water. This thesis further argues that this framework of architectural experience has the potential to serve as a catalyst project to rejuvenate and reintegrate the city of Nelson with its prime waterfront location.  ¹ “Rutherford & Trafalgar Parks & Maitai Walkway” Nelson City Council. accessed July 15, 2015.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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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


Chicca, Fabricio