Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Taking the Roof off a Modern Building

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posted on 2021-11-15, 23:53 authored by Brunskill, Helen

Taking the Roof off a Modern Building explores ways to appropriately reactivate modernist architecture, acknowledging the social, economic and contextual constraints of a contemporary provincial New Zealand township. This research is motivated by the lack of use and maintenance of aging Kapiti modern architecture.  Like many small towns, Waikanae, in the Kapiti Coast region, has a variety of buildings which are often up for lease. Within this catalogue, the modernist buildings stand out as ones that theoretically should be adaptable for changing requirements. The aim of the research is to develop a design solution to preserve the Parker Building, situated in Mahara Place, understanding the potential implications for the wider region.  The research is completed through design experiments which pursue reactivation, examining modernism, preservation and programme. The exploration of spatial possibilities focus on how the Mahara Place shopping precinct may function for social and economic needs of the current society, which differs from when it was built, in the 1970s. Designing is done through a process of research into physical and social constraints, while iterating design ideas, feeding off each other to develop the outcome.  New Zealand Modernist Architecture is a relevant research topic due to the prominent place of these buildings in our cities and towns, and their association with many great New Zealand architects. While isolating a site within the Kapiti Region, Mahara Place was highlighted as a strip of buildings not used to their fullest potential. Many buildings similar to these are at risk of demolishment, but research is needed to explore how the interior can function appropriately for the users.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Interior Architecture

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Interior Architecture

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Kebbell, Sam; Bryant, Martin