Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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The Weathered Trace: Capturing the Actualisations of Time

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posted on 2021-11-10, 20:35 authored by Shepherd, Joseph

It may be considered that architecture does not as a discipline, acknowledge the changes a building will go through after construction completion. Therefore, weathering of materials occurs without direction forcing a building to degrade over time rather than mature. We may accept that materials have a given lifespan and that it is simply a question of time before that material is no longer suitable for its original use. However, the impermanence of materials through weathering need not be considered a negative element throughout the life of a building. It may give us the impression that we can grasp the effects of time in a tangible way through its visual expressions, reminding us of our own place in the cycle of time. This thesis was design led by firstly producing material experiments, and going on site to understand the conditions of weathering on materials. This lead to a number of questions – firstly, may architecture direct its own visual expression of time through embracing the inevitable process of weathering within its materials and site? Can these actualizations of time documenting the events of a buildings life promote the build up of personal memory between the user and the architecture they experience? These questions were tested through the design of temporary research accommodation units located at Te Raekaihau Point on the south coast of Wellington. Being an extremely harsh environment, the full force of a weathered trace could be illustrated. Through design, the idea of architecture as an evolving image was explored. The contrasting material time frames of concrete and wood were understood in their relation to one another and how one may act as a framework for the other. Concrete surfaces expressed positive and negative detail, directing the weather to enhance certain patterns over time. The organic nature of timber was interpreted throughout the site with varied levels of exposure. Original traces of weather on site were used to understand future interpretations. These traces influenced material placement, orientation and gave an understanding of the processes that will affect architecture in time. Accepting that no material is permanent, certain details explored the idea that one materials death may bring about the birth of another. Over time, a timber walkway connecting two areas of the site was designed to erode, revealing a concrete stairway hidden beneath. These design considerations lead to the conclusion that architecture must be considered over time, with careful consideration of the natural forces that will affect its development. A site analysis does not occur in one visit, it must be a more thorough process considering all aspects that affect materials in time and how best to work with these inevitable facts as opposed to against them. This will result in a building capable of capturing the actualisations of time promoting memory through the weathered trace.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Master of Architecture

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Campays, Philippe