Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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The City is a Stage: Innovation beyond the Theatre Space

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posted on 2021-11-12, 09:52 authored by Courtney, Sarah

"[The] product of architecture can at least partly be understood as an endless live performance" (Van Berkel & Bos, 2008 , p. 135). As central cities such as Wellington become more event orientated, there is a greater need for a network of innovative performance venues (temporary or permanent) to meet public demand. The existing theatre spaces within Wellington are currently limited in size and the spaces are difficult to adapt to meet the needs of different performances. The thesis investigates this problem. The thesis proposes to develop a network of multifunctional performance spaces outside traditional theatre spaces in areas which are generally used as high activity public spaces and thoroughfares. This will result in not only new opportunities for theatre design and new types of adaptive performance, but, as performance is removed from a traditionally controlled environment, it will create urban spaces that are multi-functional and a better fit for a variety of experiences and uses. Several precedents are analysed with regard to the creation of new boundaries and multiple functionalities in a more contemporary setting. Public realm typologies are also explored for their capacity to be blended in form and function to create hybrid, multi-functional spaces. The resulting design strategy is applied in a series of design experiments to the selected subject site on Wellington’s waterfront. The experiments are then evaluated to aid in the development of an appropriate outdoor theatre network that will enliven the city and encourage performers to create a new style of theatre. The proposed design is developed from and through the research, and will benefit Wellington for many reasons. Firstly, the design will produce greater adaptability and permeability of the performance space in Wellington. Secondly, because theatres in Wellington are currently disengaged from their surrounding context, the proposed building will have a strong indoor/outdoor connection that encourages the use of diverse performance in and around the building. Thirdly, by placing the building in or near circulation paths, it will provide an interactive and engaging space for audiences.


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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


Allan, Penny