Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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The City of Erasure

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posted on 2021-10-26, 21:21 authored by Wilson-Cartwright, Rory

In 2011 the Banks Peninsula experienced an unprecedented natural disaster. This disaster, anearthquake, measured larger in vertical ground acceleration that any recorded prior. As youcan imagine, the architecture surrounding the epicentre was devastated. It was not just build- ings that were lost, but all of their associations; memories, experiences, intimate and personal objects. Life was erased from the surface of the earth.

Amongst the chaos, trauma and destruction, it was a particular personal experience that actedas the catalyst for this thesis. After they demolished our home, I struggled to recall the eventsthat took place within its walls. I could not separate the real from the imagined. It was only when I stumbled upon the working drawings that I was able to position myself within my memories and reflect on the erasure that caused my memories to change. This experience led me to contemplate, what role do memories have on our understandings of a city? How can architectural drawings facilitate these relationships?

This thesis does not set out to fix the issues that natural disasters cause; rather, it aims to further our understanding of therole that memory plays in our perceptions of urban environments. It uses the implications of erasure as material for speculative architectural investigations. These investigations are achieved through three clear sets of design experiments ascending in scale and complexity; the first, an installa- tion, the second, a series of medium-scale architectures, and the third, a large public building. These design experiments use speculative architectural drawings as a translational tool for ephemeral phenom- ena, helping to bridge the divide between cerebral and operational perceptions. This research aims to further our understanding of these complex phenomena in order to expand upon our own spatial and architec- tural intelligence through explorations of memory and erasure.



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

CC BY 4.0

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture


Twose, Simon