Nothing Beside Remains

Imprinting 2
Abstract imprints exploring the relationship between matter and maker

This thesis-come-manifesto begins with my dissatisfaction of modern architecture. This dissatisfaction is deeply grounded in philosophical issues of our culture, set adrift into a state of decadence and unable to produce anything of real value against the relentless existential nihilism that has become the defining social mentality. 

Faced by neoliberal politics, culture of commodification, and abandonment of purpose, the question central to this investigation is: What potential does architecture have as a vessel of experimentation towards the rediscovery of meaning in this world? 

Taking a theoretical approach that suggests the episteme of our practice might lie in an ability to connect two great paradigms of knowledge: ‘Archē’ and ‘Technē’, which form the etymological base of ‘archi-tecture’ in Ancient Greek. The thesis develops philosophies which revitalise materiality with agency and applies them to a design process.

Through imprinting, model making and the casting of plaster, this project builds towards three abstract artefacts which are models of phenomenological and existential questioning at an isolated site in the sublime rocky landscape of our Northwest Waikato.

Each making combines aspects of knowing and unknowing, allowing indomitable matter to flow forth into moulds and harden into anticipated yet not entirely predictable forms. They thus surprise and capture our senses, asking to be filled with meaning and appealing to our subjective nature as emotional human beings.

By allowing for a combination of these domitable and indomitable praxis to occur in our work, and recognising the hegemony of digital simulation and its inability to account for the fundamental qualitivity of nature, perhaps we could start seeing the world as full of meaning once more.

The emerging role of the designer then might not be to make products that we ignorantly call architecture, but to build connections among us that ask us to think, be inspired, and fill an empty world with meaning.

Models Grid 2
Concept models of how an architecture might appear
Models Line 1
Reinterpreting models in search of essential properties
3 Projects
Final design illustrations

THREE PROPOSALS: Archetypes of Matter & the Immaterial



In the distant karst landscape of the Waikato hill-country, a wall of peculiar matter faces out towards the setting sun. Clad by monolithic panels cast on and of the site, this strange being is a library. It displays ephemeral traces of the ground's rough and barren surface which are captured in inverse.

Wall Detail
Jti Layout1
Lf G Pic1


Amidst a contortion of datum planes, a labyrinth emerges from the landscape. As one proceeds down its levels, each new layer offers an increased removal from the outside world. Step by step, one after the other, turn by turn the ground seems to swallow the wary visitor whole. When present at its most sacred core and with all sensing of the outside world erased, the space reveals a crossroad which mirrors future and past time within the present.

Jti Pic2
Lfg Layout
Jti Pic1


Here, the ground’s roughness, coldness, and echo; the smell of steamy vapour and dampness, and the quieting of the outside world are brought together by the thick presence of water, which floods the space and impedes the potential for brisk motion.

The ambition of this project is to suspend a quantifiable experience of time inside the viscous darkness of a void.

Bh Pic3
Rotv Layout
Bh Pic1