Architecture of the liminal: Transformative spaces that heal

Collage Of Me
This collage is made by consolidating articles torn from Singapore and New Zealand newspapers and magazines that best represent the author's memories of Singapore and New Zealand.

This thesis focuses on the liminal, a state of 'in-between' regularly experienced by the author as a newcomer. Being in-between home and a host land, the author experiences a sense of 'passing-through' a 'liminal' state, a 'form of rite of passage', as a transient beyond borders and cultures'.

Concept Library Diagram 1
The author encountering sense of familiarity in the School of Architecture and Planning Library at the University of Auckland.
Experimental Processes
Overlaying process reveals an understanding of the site by merging the past, present and the future through the processes of clay modelling and pencil rubbings.
Masterplan And 3 Liminal Paths2
Masterplan and 3 liminal paths. (Masterplan drivers)

Through understanding the rites of passage and an analysis of the author's personal experience of in-betweenness, this thesis proposes an adaptable and syncretic urban architectural design for newcomers and Waiwera's town and foreshore. This thesis proposes the adaptation of a new bathhouse built on the site of an older bathhouse, in addition to a subsidiary bottled water factory and reception centre for the 'liminal' programme.

The architectural elements in this thesis that define 'liminal' space encourage immediacy of intersubjective experience among the newcomers. These include blurring, ambiguity, dissolution and dissociation, layering and un-layering, familiarising and de-familiarising.

The proposed design aims to blur the distinction between water and land, and between spatial experiences to create healing spaces for both newcomers, the town of Waiwera, and its residents.

In the proposed design, newcomers undergo transformations aimed at stimulating a sense of 'being' as they move through the three 'liminal' paths and ten healing thresholds that use water to create events of familiarity to trigger memory.

Pedilavium And Lavabo

The subjects attain the state of transition (liminal) when they encounter the Lavabo and Pedilavium - where the sight of a waterfall held up by ten columns and a spouting geyser offer a sense of familiarity as the subjects are reminded of gushing or spouting water from their past or hometown. The subjects are in-between the state of remembering the past and focusing on the present.

Palaestra Section
Architectural visualisation of sectional drawings of Palaestra.

The subjects attain the state of transition (liminal) when they encounter different kinds of familiarity in the Palaestra. The subjects plunge into the cold water to release the warmth and tension from the previous workout. This act of plunging into the water triggers the metaphor of familiarisation when the subject attains a state of incorporation and begins to recall the motion of jumping into the water, activated by the motion of plunging.

Tank Of Transition And Water Cafe Section
The Tank of Transition and the Water Café are located at the central hub of Waiwera Water Town. Integrated and layering the functions of the Bottled Water Facilities and Reception Centre, this space blurs the boundaries of the different programmes - creating a blurred zone that heightens the subjects’ awareness of their surroundings.
Sensory And Water Lounge Underground Sensory Bath And Sensory Deprivation Tank Section2
Different sensory experiences in the thresholds of the interconnected baths of Water Lounge, Underground Sensory Bath and Sensory Deprivation Tanks.
End Of Brackish Bath

The movement and changing water characteristic of the Brackish Bath heightens the subjects’ sense of familiarity as they attain the state of transition (liminal). The subjects remember the action of soaking and swimming and these actions become the metaphor of familiarising The formal elements are then recombined then reformulated to recognisable components. The subjects are in-between the state of remembering the past and focusing on the present.

Brackish Bath Section4
Architectural visualisation of sectional drawings of the Brackish Bath: showing the changing depth of water.

The intention is not to create a state that is just in-between, but rather an in-between state that encourages potential transformation - a place where the mind opens and reduces boundaries of cultural difference.