Niche: An Articulation of Strangeness through Animal Metaphors within the Orthodox City

Chanmi (Stella) Park

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Glow Worm
Night owl complex perspective

This thesis provides a commentary proposing a methodology of how architecture could be liberated from the constraints of the capitalist city. The project draws on sentiment to translate biological niches into architecture that conveys strangeness within the indeterminate spaces of Auckland City. As a result, the public’s cognition of architecture of the city will be enriched through exposure to the strange.

Site Map
Site map

In an era in which capital is the driver of the city, buildings are forced together as sets of parts in various relationships of convenience; chance and proximity1. The establishment of capitalism has empowered architecture into a prosaic routine of attending to conventionality, sterilizing fantasies and peculiarities of architectural spaces. Simultaneously, residual spaces in this orthodox environment emerge as indeterminate spaces foreign to the urban system. As an observation of this situation, this thesis devises a peculiar manner to allow architecture to infiltrate the residual spaces in Auckland City.    


Using the left-over spaces of the city reveals new potentials in the existing order and introduces ways to reformulate architectural relationships within the city.2 These detached environments enable the architect to create his own strange spatial logic whilst making the city accessible, potentially evolving urbanism further. The architecture inhabiting the negative spaces becomes the transitional artifice to create healthy curiosity for strangeness; hence, it focuses on itself as a bizarre, magical, strange and curious device.

1. Rachel Armstrong, “Soft Cities,” Organs Everywhere, no. 4(2012): 15

2.Thomas Schropfer, Ecological Urban Architecture: Qualitative approaches to sustainability, (Walter de Gruyter: 2012) 19

Cat burglar route diagram

The investigation of strangeness which inhabits these spaces is explored through adopting the concept of niche as the generative device of architecture. This proposal is neither bio-mimicry nor bio-morphism, which analyses different methods of remedying polluted nature. Instead, it exploits a non-human realm of biological niches as metaphors to advance the mundane, capital-driven architecture and to engage the city with a new breed of culture.

Burglar Story Board
A stealthy route around town is where people can experience strange, unconventional methods of circulation. It utilises a burglar's techniques of movement and connects to the four buildings in this thesis. The entries to the route are hidden around the city so that entry is only granted by coincidence or when searched for.

The Night Owl complex

Glow Worm Section Open
Glow Worm
The night owl complex uses two niches: Glow worm and the night owls. This complex is dedicated to the ‘night owls’ who sleep during daytime. Consequently, the space is activated at night and the interior form begins to glow as the people bring life into the space.

Elephant bakery

Untitled 17
Elephant Bakery, inspired by the peculiar olfactive system of elephants produces baked goods to spread the scent of desire to the hidden entries of the cat burglar route, thereby hinting to the civilians of the orthodox city some of the locations of the entries.

Weather frog spa

Untitled 15
Inspired by the niche of a wood frog that freezes itself in winter and thaws in spring, the weather frog spa contains and utilises the weather condition of the city. The rainwater is used for the spas and the wind activates the architecture to swirl and float.

Inside out Lizard

E.T. Salamanders do not have lungs. Instead it breathes through its porous skin. This inverted condition is used metaphorically in this architecture where the boundaries of the surfaces of the interior, exterior, roof, wall, floor and ceilings are blurred.
Untitled 16
Axonometric diagrams