The Ruins of Eloquence
On the 22nd of February, 2011 the city of Christchurch, New Zealand was crippled by a colossal earthquake. 185 people were killed, thousands injured and what remained was a city left in destruction and ruin. Thousands of Christchurch properties and buildings were left damaged beyond repair and the rich historical architecture of the Canterbury region had suffered irreparably. This research will conduct an investigation into whether the use of mixed reality can aid in liberating Christchurch’s rich architectural heritage when applied to the context of destructed buildings within Christchurch. The aim of this thesis is to formulate a narrative around the embodiment of mixed reality when subjected to the fragmentary historical architecture of Christchurch. Mixed reality will aspire to act as the defining ligature that holds the past, present and future of Christchurch’s architectural heritage intact as if it is all part of the same continuum. This thesis will focus on the design of a memorial museum within a heavily damaged historical trust registered building due to the Christchurch earthquake. It is important and relevant to conceive the idea of such a design as history is what makes everything we know. The memories of the past, the being of the now and the projection of the future is the basis and fundamental imperative in honouring the city and people of Christchurch. Using the technologies of Mixed Reality and the realm of its counter parts the memorial museum will be a definitive proposition of desire in providing a psychological and physical understanding towards a better Christchurch, for the people of Christchurch. This thesis serves to explore the renovation possibilities of the Canterbury provincial council building in its destructed state to produce a memorial museum for the Christchurch earthquake. The design seeks to mummify the building in its raw state that sets and develops the narrative through the spaces. The design intervention is kept at a required minimum and in doing so manifests a concentrated eloquence to the derelict space. The interior architecture unlocks the expression of history and time encompassed within a destructive and industrialised architectural dialogue. History is the inhabitant of the building, and using the physical and virtual worlds it can be set free. This thesis informs a design for a museum in central Christchurch that celebrates and informs the public on past, present and future heritage aspects of Christchurch city. Using mixed reality technologies the spatial layout inside will be a direct effect of the mixed reality used and the exploration of the physical and digital heritage aspects of Christchurch. The use of technology in today’s world is so prevalent that incorporating it into a memorial museum for Christchurch would not only be interesting and exploratory but also offer a sense of pushing forward and striving beyond for a newer, fresher Christchurch. The memorial museum will showcase a range of different exhibitions that formulate around the devastating Christchurch earthquake. Using mixed reality technologies these exhibitions will dictate the spaces inside dependant on their various applications of mixed reality as a technology for architecture. Research will include; what the people of Canterbury are most dear to in regards to Christchurch’s historical environment; the use of mixed reality to visualise digital heritage, and the combination of the physical and digital to serve as an architectural mediation between what was, what is and what there could be.