Rupturing the Void: The Revitalisation of Neglected Site and Creative Culture


This thesis looks at the potential that further creative presence within the current built environment of the lower CBD (Central Business District) of Tāmaki Makaurau can have on our relationship with the city at an urban scale, presented as an urban intervention.

The deep inanity of the Tāmaki Makaurau CBD is its mundanity, for those who live there and those who pass by. While urban development maintains its focus on commercial expansion and profit, little space is left for creative presence and culture, which presents itself as a broken cycle. A cycle that functions under the continuous, circular notions of renewal, while neglecting those that exist outside of perceived economic value.

The urban fabric presents nooks of derelict space appearing in states of ruin, or ‘Terrain Vague’. Examples of spaces defined as Terrain Vague include abandoned construction sites, unused or under-utilised sites and un-inhabitable spaces. These spaces sit outside of the functional perception of a city as failures of urban development, with few people engaging with the environment. However, Terrain Vague holds potential, where an alternative meaning of space can be curated, challenging the way in which we perceive this void within a realm of ruin.

The chosen site of this thesis is an abandoned construction site on Fort Street in the lower CBD. The site sits dormant, representing that of a neglected site, with graffiti-scattered walls and disregarded objects of construction.

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Documentation of architectural traces and memory on the walls of neighbouring buildings.
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Photogrammetry documentation of architectural traces and memory through 3D scan.

With this consideration, this thesis investigates the narrative of site through a re-imagining of how we perceive ruin by looking at what is left behind. Within this realm, traces of past architecture live as ruptures; peeling and decay on neighbouring walls, sitting as remainders and reminders. As a re-imagining of ruin, experimental preservation techniques are used to critique conventional preservation values as a way to acknowledge this state as a vital part of the urban narrative - What is being neglected and why?

In this regard, this thesis asks – How can our perceptions of ruin and neglect be re-imagined through methods of experimental preservation?

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‘Urban Artefacts’ - Experimental preservation makings.
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'Urban Artefacts' - Inventory of objects collected from site.
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'Urban Artefacts' - Collages using objects collected from site.

In the design outcome, the intervention looks at housing studio and performance spaces for creatives, while engaging with the public in an activated state. This is to be seen as a beginning of understanding how neglected spaces can be used to benefit creatives as well as the individual and collective experience of the city.

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Site Plan - Lower CBD Tāmaki Makaurau
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North Elevations - Day and night in activated 'Performance State'.
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Sections AA + BB
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Entrance from Fort Street during 'Performance State'.