Deconstruction's Children: An Allegorical Office

Ryan Mahon

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Defining ‘practice’ as a personal narrative that details one’s identity as a designer, this work seeks to reflect upon the practice that the author has established whilst at the School of Architecture and Planning. This act of self-definition explores past projects and the influences that informed them. As the purpose of architecture school is to enable students to design an individual understanding of the architect’s role, rather simply singular buildings, this thesis is intended as a final preparation before entering the profession.

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“This is a story of stories. We tell ourselves these kinds of stories about ourselves to the effect of defining ourselves.”

Michael Davis, “Ark : Pursuing Qualities of Relation” (RMIT University, 2014), 119. 

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The author’s practice and understanding of the architect’s role is explored and expanded through the design of an architectural office for Mark Wigley, a theorist who was educated at the University of Auckland and went on to become the Dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Taking up Wigley’s assertion that re-thinking the foundational assumptions of our discipline is a means through which to achieve criticality, this allegorical office re-evaluates the traditional programme of an architectural office and, in doing so, re-imagines the architect who inhabits it. Sited on upper Symonds Street in Auckland, the project imagines that Wigley remained in New Zealand and utilises a reading of his arguments as a vehicle for the development of the author’s own practice. Responding to his instruction that the architect must be a public intellectual, this redesigned figure is tasked with embracing design as a form of research in order to contribute knowledge back to the discipline through a conscious awareness of their personal practice. 

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“The addition of the foreign makes something more like itself than it was before... You are what you are by what you bring into yourself, what you graft to yourself” 

Mark Wigley, Utzon’s Wings: The Mythology of the Global Architect (Lecture, Staedelschule Architecture Class, Frankfurt: , 2011). 

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