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"Re-collecting" Caravan: an Architecturalisation of the New Zealand Cultural Relic

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posted on 2021-11-15, 06:23 authored by Clement, Shelly

“Re-collecting” Caravan re-interprets caravaning as the basis of a 21st century New Zealand vernacular architecture. Two themes run through this thesis: the caravan as an article of nostalgia, and the caravan in architecture as marginal. The final design outcome is a new typology of holidaying vessels within New Zealand’s camping grounds. This thesis begins with the specific history of the caravan within New Zealand and the facts that surround the reality of caravaning in today’s society: the caravan has become a celebrated cultural relic of our recent past of which is now continually used as a symbol or icon of New Zealand. A fear for the loss of the caravan as a living holiday reality sparked a cultural nostalgia and the foundations for this research. To prevent the loss of the adored functional domestic vessel, the caravan was next analysed for its compositional and phenomenal attributes of which could later help inform an architectural response. It was the ‘retro’ aesthetic combined with the fact that ephemeral cultural artefacts (such as the caravan) do not typically ‘belong’ in the architectural realm that bought about the second theme. Kitsch as a by-product of a re-interpreted retro artefact is addressed before moving on to the design process and final design.

Although orientated specifically toward the caravan, this thesis addresses the wider issues of celebrating and liberating the architectural influences of the margins. It deals with kitsch, lifestyles, nostalgia, miniature, popular culture, media, tourism, mobility, and iconism.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Master of Architecture

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Wood, Peter