New Zealand's Rural Enigma : UNPACKED

an anti-modern rural flaneur - scan of cardboard relief cut

'New Zealand’s Rural Enigma' searches for ways in which bucolic idealisations of rural New Zealand can be architecturally scrutinised, observed and redefined. This thesis interrogates how architecture can manipulate perceptions of the rural by identifying sites of discontent and reinterpreting how they are communicated and discussed within architectural discourse.

'New Zealand’s Rural Enigma' is a series of five episodes that requires their latent observers to implicate themselves. The work, an installation of five cardboard boxes employing shadow boxes, collage and architectural drawings, is intended to be accessible to a non-exclusive public. It plays dumb and embraces its DIY quality. Posing as a collection of makeshift screens, the boxes question ways in which an architectural investigation is presented, explored and understood by both its ‘creator’ and its audience. The materials and methods implemented allow 'New Zealand’s Rural Enigma' to negotiate the past, present and future through a series of curated capsules of 21st century consumer culture.

Here the place of architecture in rural New Zealand is presented as a pervasive, continuous relationship between the commercialisation and consumption of space. Rather than solving problems, each episode of 'New Zealand’s Rural Enigma' unearths the unknown knowns potently present within the architecture of the rural. This architectural exploration of New Zealand's regions through absurd spatial adaptations promotes architectural conflicts and exposes latent truths that offer a humble, sardonic reflection upon the rural that New Zealanders have long admired and disdained but continue to construct.

Ep1 A

The pilot episode of 'New Zealand’s Rural Enigma', The Promised Land LLC, explores the promotional exploitation and perception of rural New Zealand as an uncorrupted picturesque landscape. For the first instalment we visit the gateway to the Promised Land. A space that guards the boundary between the urban north and the rural south. The Promised Land LLC promotes prosperity to the oncoming immigrant, and proves a fitting starting point for our journey through 'New Zealand’s Rural Enigma'. 

Ep2 A

Raising the Steaks takes everyday consumers on a dining experience like no other. It draws on historical practices and architectural enigmas, as well as international and national films, art and music to both expose and confront current agribusiness practices. It attempts to question why and how the processing of food has been hidden behind closed doors, and reintroduces ceremonies of ritual and sacrifice; practices that, once seated at the dinner table, become commercialised and exposed within an architecture that reinvigorates and perverts one of New Zealand's largest export industries.

Ep3 A

This week we visit a ‘unique’ Canterbury community, whose tight-knit team bands together to reinvigorate and reinstate the values of their derelict place of worship, in the wake of the 2011 earthquakes. The New Zealand Rugby Union is in full support of the decision to erect a sacred space for players and their coaches, between, during and after matches. A space previously dubbed the ‘changing room/changing shed will be New Zealand’s first rugby chapel, and will be dedicated to St Richie of Kurow. 

Ep4 A

A small town couple have built up a thriving rural retreat, in which visitors may partake: 'The Four Ps' cleansing process. Piss, Pot, P and Pies  - always blow on the pie.  This episode focuses on providing a space to facilitate and expose New Zealand's drinking culture and the many problems that arise out of its abuse, particularly in relation to personal wellbeing. 

Ep5 A

A small pre-apocalyptic group of sovereign freethinkers begin to hunker down in Wanaka where they are preparing for the collapse of the welfare state. The final instalment of 'New Zealand’s Rural Enigma' provides a sneak peek into the bitcoin-stocked bolthole of the seemingly immoral, immortal venture capitalist, Peter Thiel.