Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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The other interior: An ode to cigarettes

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posted on 2021-11-14, 08:15 authored by Pike, Karen-Lize

Interiors are the space of human encounter. Their validity is entrenched in the social realm and the integrity and relevance of interior architecture depends upon the acknowledging human interaction. It should not be resigned to the confines of four walls within a singular piece of architecture. Interior architecture is a discipline that deals with the in-between. ‘Inside’ and ‘outside’ are wrongly defined as opposing states. For the inside and outside are not as distinct as we have come to believe. They are not opposites. They are intertwined, collapsing into each other. You can never be completely outside; to be outside something means to be inside something else. At once outside a building, you are still inside the confines of the city. We see this interior condition everyday in the city. It is hard to escape the affiliation of alleyways with the profane. The city is wilder than we think. Alleyways hold onto the secrets of the other side of the city through their reliquary of remnants of the activities taken place. The copious number of drained cigarette butts flaunts the defiance of the smoker. Similar to the dark romance a smoker shares with his cigarette, they flirt with the allure of darkness and the hideously seductive risk of tiptoeing on the edge of regulated space. The alleyways become the illicit interior, a meeting place, market place and connection space for society’s sub-cultures, where the currency is cigarettes. This thesis explores the intensification of this unbuilt landscape. Alleyways are interstitial sites for experimentation of the threshold between public and private, light and shadow, presence and absence, sacred and secular, legal and illegal. Interstitial spaces are often over-looked and unappreciated. This research endeavours to reveal the inherent interiority and sacral conditions of these cast-aside sites. The interstitial endures the grotesque scars of the city in its beautiful ugliness of decay. These interstitial sites are allowed to just exist when everything else is arbitrarily swept clean each day. Becoming uninhibited canvases of they city.  The research focuses on five particular fractures within Wellington City’s infrastructure. These five sites form the initial vehicle for the design research and generation. The approach to the research follows an unconventional methodology, embracing experimental freethinking drawing and modelling explorations. The five sites all have a connection to Wellingtons prominent Cuba Street and lead to the concluding site for Design, the interstice between Town Hall and The Michael Fowler Centre, in Civic Square. The aim is not to sterilise the interstitial but to ensure its idiosyncrasies are retained. The outcome is a smoker’s room.  In the wider scope this research sets out to contribute to the potential of Interior Architecture through the engagement of the smoker. Implementing interior architecture on two different scales; macro and micro. The macro where the city is the envelope housing the new interior and the micro scale where the design is re-contextualised as a product in the form of an ashtray. Liberating interiors from the traditional constraints. Reclaiming interstitial space as the interiors of the city, inverting Interior Architecture from the contained, to the container. People- human encounters and activities, like the walls in architecture, have the ability to define interior space.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Interior Architecture

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Interior Architecture

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970112 Expanding Knowledge in Built Environment and Design

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Wood, Peter