Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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The Stranger

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Version 1 2021-11-23, 01:36
posted on 2023-09-22, 01:20 authored by Young, Christopher

How can humanity possibly become sustainable in the future if we cannot think or plan sustainably in the present? This project aims to challenge people’s current thinking, raising awareness that the issue of sustainability will not be resolved without a significant cultural shift in our relationship with our world’s environmental systems.  The thesis addresses this through an architectural narrative conceived to enhance the viewer’s awareness of how our interdependent relationship with machines and industry has led to this dire situation. Prior to the Industrial Revolution the environment could regenerate and recover faster than humanity could destroy it. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution this changed and environmental degradation has rapidly increased out of control. The result is that today we need to evolve and change our thinking rather than be limited by our tools if we are to be sustainable. It is this at present unsustainable relationship between mechanical industry and human behaviour that this thesis exposes through speculative architecture. The investigation explores how architectural allegory can be an effective way of conveying a message with multiple layers of interpretation and meaning - a message capable of addressing important environmental, political, economic and social issues.  The title of the thesis is taken from Albert Camus’s novel l’Étranger (The Stranger) as well as Georg Simmel’s essay “The Stranger”, which was written as an excursus to a chapter dealing with sociology of space in his book Soziologie. In this thesis, as an architectural allegory, the Stranger’s architectural habitat is composed of a myriad of integrated machines that symbolise our time and place identity: a Theodolite that surveys the land; a Clock that keeps the time; a Loom that reflects the folklore of fate; a Compass that represents direction, and a Camera Obscura through which the Stranger views his/her surroundings. The Stranger lives in the Camera Obscura, a compartment with a periscopic lens focused across the Cook Strait to South Island. When (s)he activates the Loom, it pulls the living compartment along tracks toward the core, where (s)he descends into the central volume of the Theodolite. A Compass on the top of the structure points towards landmarks across the Cook Strait while the mechanical workings are inspired by the internals of a mechanical Clock.  The overall programme for the thesis investigation is an Aquaponics Lab, a self-contained environment that grows marine life in an aquaculture system, using their waste to fertilise plant life in a hydroponic system, and using their nutrients in turn to feed the marine life. The flora and fauna continually sustain one another in an eternal cycle - the machines replicating a perfect natural system. The thesis takes the form of a day in the life of the Stranger. The reader witnesses the sequential daily rituals of the Stranger as (s)he moves through the machines from sunrise to sunset.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

CC BY-NC 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

School of Architecture


Brown, Daniel