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The House of Marie Shannon

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posted on 2021-11-12, 09:56 authored by Apthorp, Sally Margaret

This thesis creatively explores the architectural implications present in the photographs by New Zealand photographer Marie Shannon. The result of this exploration is a house for Shannon. The focus is seven of Shannon's interior panoramas from 1985-1987 in which architectural space is presented as a domestic stage. In these photograph's furniture and objects are the props and Shannon is an actress. This performance, with Shannon both behind and in front of her camera, creates a double insight into her world; architecture as a stage to domestic life, and a photographers view of domestic architecture. Shannon's view on the world enables a greater understanding to our ordinary, domestic lives. Photography is a revealing process that teaches us to see more richly in terms of detail, shading, texture, light and shadow. Through an engagement with photographs and understanding architectural space through a photographer's eye, the hidden, secret or unnoticed aspects to Shannon's reality will be revealed. This insight into another's reality may in turn enable a deeper understanding of our own. The methodology was a revealing process that involved experimenting with Shannon's panoramic photographs. Models and drawing, through photographic techniques, lead to insights both formally in three dimensions and at surface level in two dimensions. These techniques and insights were applied to the site through the framework of a camera obscura. Shannon's new home is created by looking at her photographs with an architect's 'eye'. Externally the home acts as a closed vessel, a camera obscura. But internally rich and intriguing forms, surfaces, textures and shadings are created. Just as the camera obscura projects an exterior scene onto the interior, so does the home. Shannon will inhabit this projection of the shadows which oppose 30 O'Neill Street, Ponsonby, Auckland; her past home and site of her photographs. Photographers, and in particular Shannon, look at the architectural world with fresh eyes, free from an architectural tradition. Photography and the camera enable an improved power of sight. More is revealed to the camera. Beauty is seen in the ordinary, with detail, tone, texture, light and dark fully revealed. As a suspended moment, a deeper understanding and opportunity is created to observe and appreciate this beauty. Through designing with a photographer's eye greater insight is gained into Shannon's 'reality'. This 'revealing' process acts as a means of teaching us how to see pictorial beauty that is inherent in our ordinary lives. This is the beauty that is often hidden in secret, due to our unseeing eyes. This project converts the photographs beauty back into three dimensional architecture.


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



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Wood, Peter