Crossing the Threshold: A Study of Liminal Space in New Zealand Landscape

Alex Pirie

Site Plan 1676 X116

This thesis is an attempt to analyse the concept
of thresholds, within natural capacities and
contexts, with an intention toward
reactivating liminal space through the
creation of an architectural intervention;
re-engaging society with the landscape. The
point of origin for this investigation explores
the concept of the door as a portal, a
passageway and a state of transition from one
reality to another. It also aims to trigger a
shift in consciousness away from
consumerism, technology, mindless routine
and everyday bustle and instead towards
spaces of self-awareness, solitude and
reflection, restoring value to the ‘in-between’
and the journey. 

Using cathedral doors and portals as a specific research origin and reference point for their eminent status as societal thresholds themselves, we analyse the transition: the crossing from one place to another, and are forced to ask: what effect does this transition have on our awareness of space and those around us, of architecture itself?

Site Plan 2460 Pixels Wide
Site Plan - Marlborough Sounds
Point A Plan Full Width
Point A plan
Point B Plan Full Width
Point B plan

Many New Zealand equivalents can be found within the abundance of natural threshold spaces and boundaries in our rugged and sometimes unforgiving landscape, many of which fall into neglect as ‘overlooked spaces and blind spots’ and typically fall by the wayside, or are simply classed as aesthetically pristine but without function. Specifically, the point of convergence of the Queen Charlotte Sound and the Tory Channel in the Marlborough Sounds and gateway to the South Island, will be the anchor point for the project with a dual design/structure sitting across the water, creating a threshold of its own as one passes between the void.

Section view

The concept of thresholds is an increasingly relevant one: we live every day in transition – crossing thresholds and boundaries in both physical and social capacities and this transition, this ‘crossing’, is one of architecture’s most compelling moments and should be treated as such.

Exploded axonometric view
Forced Perspectives Abstractv3
Forced perspectives