Home - The Space that Shapes 'Us': Exploring the social potential of domestic space


How can the reimagination of domestic space foster social wellbeing within the intergenerational immigrant household in New Zealand?

The 2019 Wellbeing Budget demonstrates the New Zealand coalition government's commitment to improving New Zealanders' wellbeing. However, the government's wellbeing objectives are based on measures of statistically quantifiable, empirical data, fundamentally limiting its ability to consider the idiosyncratic experiences of personal, relational and spatial wellbeing.

In recognising this, the thesis explores the nuanced, non-statistical, yet very real experience of human wellbeing within architectural space, particularly social wellbeing within domestic spaces. 

The perception of social and relational wellbeing is inherently subjective to its contextual culture. We find that these social tensions are significantly heightened within intergenerational immigrant households when both imported and local socio-cultural desires manifest simultaneously under one roof. As an intensely multicultural nation with a comparably short history of immigration, these tensions are palpable and still very raw in New Zealand.

the meeting of different socio-cultural uses of domestic space

To begin addressing this challenge, the thesis reimagines the domestic home by challenging the perception of binaries such as connection-separation, interior-exterior, here-there, and then-now, to navigate the social complexities of the intergenerational immigrant home. 

These binary understandings are replaced with a multi-dimensional and multi-layered conception, where the complex relationship between the social, spatial and temporal experience of the home is articulated through the architectural language of the 'fabric'. In particular, the potential of thresholds as social modifiers are rediscovered, in which their sensory, imaginative and psychological spatial modifications create the social texture of the domestic home.

Untitled 4
< I > proposing domestic moments: creating scenes for compatible moments - not rooms
Floor Level
< II > re-imagining the threshold: exploring their functional, sensorial and perceptual potentials

This investigation of thresholds is paired with consideration of domestic moments and rituals to create spaces that allow for the harmonious co-existence of different socio-cultural desires within the home.

The thesis presents a design process, rather than a single design proposal. Escaping the typical cookie-cutter process, it begins from an understanding of the varying conceptions of 'home' and 'family' between the generations. It presents a process where the specificity of relations between people is the motivator and generator of architecture, consequently housing 'moments' rather than rooms.

Kitchen Dev
< III > developing the threshold: simple gestures with profound effects - the kitchen
Laundry Gif
< III > developing the threshold: the phenomenology of the washing machine - the laundry
Bedtime Story1
< IV > articulating the moment: a narrative offered by the threshold - the bedroom
< IV > articulating the moment: a narrative offered by the threshold - the dining table
0 Dining
< V > re-imagining the home: A space ... to eat / to cook [together] / to play / to keep an eye on the kids / to feel connected / to greet / to talk / to do homework [together] / to work from home / to be warm
Laundry Lyr 1
< V > re-imagining the home: A space ... to wash clothes / to dry fold and hang laundry / to do housework together / to be alone / to be cozy / to be undisturbed / to read / to nap / to pray / to hide / to store linen
Attic Back
< V > re-imagining the home: A space ... to imagine / to play / to have secrecy / to explore / to watch / to have a space to oneself / to be soft / to be wild / to own

My personal experience of growing up as a 1.5 generation Kiwi-Korean has guided the direction of this thesis. I have explored the coming together of East Asian socio-cultural ideas of the home and family and the reciprocal Western conceptions to test and develop this schematic process.

I must re-emphasise that the thesis presents a process that may apply to other cultures beyond the East Asian. Thus it opens up a comprehensive discourse on how we design for intergenerational immigrant households here in New Zealand.