Copied, Dispatched and Received

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Through additions and alterations, a historic space can be redeveloped to retain its relevance. This project speculates how a meaningful relationship can be formed between old and new material, where a building’s past and surrounding site inform new architectural work. Centered around the adaptive reuse of the former Te Aroha Telegraph and Post Office, this project aims to retell the building's history through new architectural intervention.

Embossing Small
Embossing and stencilling explorations

Described as the heart of every community, small-town post offices were once perceived as monuments of colonial progress, connecting townships to one another and the rest of the globe. However, it is long since the days of sending letters and telegraphs; as time moves on so do technologies, so why should these historic buildings be treated any differently? Intentional or not, buildings undergo continual changes and in time will outgrow their original use, but this does not mean it cannot successfully house another. Through additions and alterations, a space can be redeveloped to retain its relevance, but general bias towards heritage preservation challenges what an appropriate degree of intervention is.

Conceptual model making investigations

Applied to the Te Aroha Telegraph and Post Office, this research speculates how a meaningful relationship can be formed between old and new fabric, where the building’s past informs new architectural work. Inspired by the duplication of Edwardian government architecture, strategies of mirroring, inversion, and repetition were explored through casting, stencilling, and embossing practices. Investigations were further abstracted and translated to inform three-dimensional designs whilst maintaining consideration for earlier archival research. This continual copying and abstraction of the existing architecture highlights the gradual loss of information with each copy, drawing parallels with the post office’s own deterioration.

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West Elevation
Western Elevation

Honouring the buildings' historical and local value, the adapted use responds to the needs of the community and its scenic surroundings, while the surrounding site informs new, sympathetic design decisions, seen in the familiarity of scale, form and materials in the new work. The heritage architecture of the Te Aroha Post Office is treated as an unfinished story, not to be rewritten or met with a full stop, but with the opportunity for another chapter to be added to a story already rich in history, which in time, can be added to again.

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Model and Table
South Elevation
Southern Elevation
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