A Foreign Affair // Beyond the “White Box”: Re-thinking the Exhibition Typology with Responses to Urban Context

Alexander (Jiaxuan) Goh

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Culture is the epitome of identity. Because of the rapid globalisation process, our world is more connected than before. While new cultures have been developed in the past few decades, naturally vestiges of cultures with rich pasts remain. It is important for us to acknowledge, preserve and pass down our own traditional culture to the future generations. If what is preserved in the museum represents our traditional culture, it should be more accessible to everyone.

Questioning how architecture may act as a catalyst for greater appreciation of art, history and culture, this thesis argues our current museology often fails to engage with a wider, diverse public audience. The majority of visitors to the museums and galleries are scholars and educated individuals. Perhaps part of this is due to the existing museology that is usually designed as an enclosed space. As a result, invisible boundaries are formed to dispute the public engagement with the museum.

This thesis seeks to investigate alternative typologies for art, history and cultural representation that respond to the surrounding urban context. As a result, strategies are developed from empiricism, which is the belief that all knowledge comes from experience through senses. Thus, information presented in that way might be easier to understand for a wider audience.

Sited at the corner of Karangahape Road and Ponsonby Road, this thesis proposes to create a central connection which promotes urban regeneration. The goal is to re-activate the corner site, converting this urban wasteland into a lively creative park that promotes industrial heritage, merging the dynamic between Karangahape Road and the neighbourhood of Ponsonby.

The idea of merging the streetscape and the museum into two continuous typologies are exemplified through architectural design strategies. Many of the findings are related to the notion of the anti-museum movement which focuses on the rethinking of the exhibition beyond ‘white box’ museology, making the exhibition more accessible by blurring the boundaries. Therefore, this thesis studies how the industrial urban obsolete can be transformed into contemporary architecture without compromising its existing spatial atmosphere. The outcome may not be the exact solution, but rather an architectural experimentation for finding possibilities and furthering the research.

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The Reservoir Timeline & Site Plan
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