The Practical and Poetic: Architecture through Ecological and Cultural Narratives
Storytelling is an incredibly powerful tool used to understand everything around us. In ancient times, stories have been developed in oral tradition to make sense of people and natural phenomena. This thesis considers mythic narratives pertaining to the landscape as a valuable source of knowledge. Utilising the power of narratives, a strategy is employed to link the intangible senses of events, characters and experience to the tangible notion of architecture. Investigations into ecology and mythology of a landscape will inform architectural space, form and program.
Te Tokaroa (Meola Reef), the site for this investigation, is a vast landscape that extends three kilometres out into the tidal flats of the Waitematā Harbour. This black basaltic reef formed 28,000 years ago creates a unique experience, placing the public between the threshold of land and sea. The blurring of boundaries, the sweeping panoramic views and the overwhelming scale of the site creating both disorientation and awe, serve as the context for the architectural interventions proposed.
A Pūrākau (Māori myth) works to explain the creation of Meola through the use of poetic devices and tales of the supernatural. This thesis works to find the significance of Mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) to architecture. The Pūrākau behind Meola Reef will be analysed through personal observation and interpretation, combined with ecological and environmental data, to create speculation on architecture and the landscape.
The understanding of the landscape is crucial to the objective of this thesis. The architectural proposition looks to address environmental concerns discovered through the research of the site. The cumulative degradation to the waterways that run either side of the reef has reduced the water quality to a standard not viable for recreation. This has potential affects to the reef and harbour if not addressed. Additionally, the site’s history as a former landfill site give rise to issues of methane and leachate production which will be addressed through the architecture of this thesis.
This thesis combines ecology with poetic narratives to produce an architecture that is both functional and experiential. The architecture is a synthesis of infrastructure, architecture and landscape, working to improve environmental health and provide spaces for recreation and contemplation.