Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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The Memory That Remembers Us

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posted on 2021-11-16, 00:30 authored by Jones, Mitchell

Future habitation of earth is an ever-increasing concern, with the proliferation of problems such as overpopulation, climate change, nonviable waste disposable methods and over-consumption of natural resources. These issues are influencing some contemporary entrepreneurs to consider ways of moving away from earth, to new habitations in space where we can survive if the earth becomes uninhabitable. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezo is currently engaging technicians and engineers to design plans for a city in space. But architectural design theory, in addition to engineering, must play a fundamental role in such a project, if it is to meet the social, cultural and political needs of its inhabitants.  People on earth benefit significantly from the ability to engage with the natural environment. But in outer space, this is not a condition that normally would be considered viable. In a space city, by default the traditional notion of an outside landscape setting needs to occur inside. This imperative becomes one of the principal reasons why this thesis looks at biophilia as a direction for the design research experiments, since biophilic systems at a large scale can provide a sense of an ‘outside’ landscape even ‘within’ the architecture of the design research. This thesis advances this concept further by proposing that the occupants can live within such a system, rather than peripheral to it, enabling the occupants to become a fundamental part of a working system.  With the intention of exploring design concepts for a city in space, the first aim of the thesis is to consider how to incorporate a ‘natural environment’ into people’s lives, even within an ‘architectural’ context where no access to a traditional natural environment is available. The first thesis aim is to achieve this by integrating biophilic systems throughout the design, thereby providing an environmental landscape within which people can interact, within an internalised architectural construct. The second aim of the thesis is to consider how to apply sustainability to an entire city. By designing an entire city as an integrated set of biophilic ‘systems’, the thesis proposes that each component of the new urban environment becomes participatory – and they become fundamental parts of that system. The overall system can be conceived in relation to sub-systems, systems working on macro and micro levels, relating to the full range of urban to human scales. The third aim of the thesis is to consider how the architectural identity of a future city would be defined if the multicultural future city is not associated with any traditional site, culture, or architectural heritage. The thesis proposes that if the new city is designed as an overall set of biophilic systems, then the typological identity of the new architecture / new city could arise from the biophilic systems’ environmental as well as mechanical components–integrated with the related habitational systems. In this way, the architectural identity of the ‘new city’ is conceived as systems-based, rather than arising from historical architectural precedents that are no longer applicable in a fully enclosed city in space.  This thesis asks the question: how can pressing issues such as global scarcity and severe environmental transformation be strategically represented to the public through politically motivated ‘speculative’ architecture? Using Factory Fifteen, a visual studio that works in architectural communication, combined with design work described in Chris Abbot’s novel Xavier of the World as a provocative generator of a speculative design as well as a driver for the site and programme, the architecture of a city in space is used to illustrate a new interpretation of physical, social, economic, cultural and political parameters for 21st century architecture.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

Victoria University of Wellington Unit

University Library

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Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Brown, Daniel