Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Steep Inclines

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posted on 2022-07-28, 02:10 authored by Jeffery, Toby

A curious apprehensiveness towards the future of a town that I consider to be my second home, Queenstown, was the motivation for this research. An interest in how people dwell within this steep inclined context was piqued by a noticeable increase in dwellings that sit detached from the steep inclined hills around Queenstown. The resulting investigation looked into the architectural meaning of ‘site’ and its application to Queenstown. It was this curiosity as to how people dwell alongside a steep inclined landscape that led me to the development of an architectural framework in which the built form actively amplifies the Queenstown ‘site’.

Queenstown is a lakeside paradise, renowned around the world for its picturesque scenery. The desirability of immersing oneself in these beautiful landscapes is contributing to Queenstown’s position as the second fastest growing population in New Zealand. However, the influx of people attracted to the region’s beauty has put immense pressures on the local landscape to meet the immediate and significant infrastructure demands of this transient population. This has disrupted the connection between the town and the surrounding steep inclined landscapes, muting the valuable agency of this landscape and site in the current built environment.

In response, this research explores the proposition that allowing landscape to have an authoring role within a steep inclined context can produce an amplification of site, generating a stronger connection between person and place. A design-led research approach was implemented to support this proposition; this overarching methodology informed the process of developing and articulating site through architectural forms. The proposition was explored through three different scales of architectural complexity. The first scale was an installation that acted as an abstraction and investigation into how the ephemeral qualities of Queenstown might be merged together to amplify site. Through multiple iterations of model making and investigations, physical characteristics of Queenstown were used to inform a design tectonic. The second scale used a series of iterative analogue models to best encapsulate how the agency of a steep inclined site could author a small hillside dwelling. Finally, the third design scale critically utilised the findings from the previous scales, in order to produce a convention centre that resonates with and amplifies the site. The resulting explorative design supports the conclusion that, by allowing the agency of site to author a design, a stronger connection to site within a steep inclined context will be created.


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)

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Alternative Title

Site as an Author of Design

Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Smitheram, Jan