Reassembling the Assembly

Abby-Jane Taylor

Intro Image
Christ Church, Pukehou.

The ongoing depreciation of religious and civic architecture in rural areas drives the development of this project. As the needs of small communities change, and the associated architecture idles, this project explores how existing architecture can respond and accommodate diversity.

Through challenging our bias towards permanence as unchanged architecture, the project questions what can happen if we take responsibility for undoing the things we make. It investigates how considering the lifecycle of a structure backward in time prompts designs that can adapt to the uncertain conditions of the future. Maintaining a reversed perspective, this project argues that we must learn from the past before designing for the future. Thus we must disassemble before we assemble.

Process Sketch
Process sketch.

'Disassembly' is pursued as an alternative to demolition and a strategy for enduring architecture, while 'reassembly' describes the design process of reusing existing built elements in new and exciting ways. The process starts with rigorous recording and documenting of original elements. These elements are then translated into new tectonic assemblies and unique spatial possibilities while the process remains a reversible intervention.

The inquiry is tested through four reassemblies of a deconsecrated church in rural Hawke's Bay. Each reassembly aims to foster a strong connection to place, which was lost when the church dwindled into obsolescence. Informed by new understandings of the natural environment and the community's changing needs, the outcomes address contextual changes while encouraging local engagement through community participation. Each reassembly follows a familiarity of scale and materiality but departs from the formal religious structure and programme.

Through maintaining the lightweight, layered timber-frame construction alongside the introduction of new connections and reversible combinations, the outcomes maintain relevance and persistence over time, yet embrace the future.

Asset Parts Used Iso
Diagram showing the church elements used in the library reassembly.
Asset Workshop
Asset Workshop Two
Asset Library
Asset Library Elevation
Asset Firestation
Asset Forestation Elevations
Asset Hall
Asset Hall Elevations