The Reading Room

Olivia Wong

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At present, the architectural landscape of Auckland City is focused on efficiency and hustle, a prioritisation that has led to the development of typologies of transience and the amalgamation of programmes. This thesis pursues a civic, contemplative and singular architecture that has been left behind in the build-up of stimuli from the urgency of efficiency.


In contrast to the fast-paced milieu of the metropolis, the sustained stillness of the reader has no place. This thesis employs the act of reading as its antidote by creating a curated architectural response dedicated to this notion.

In relation to the intensely disciplined reading room typology, architectural precedents, originally stemming from themes of devotion and concentration, have been chosen to provide initial points of inquiry.

This research was motivated by the conviction that relief from the city could be achieved through the creation of ‘distance’ and the realisation that architectural typologies previously associated with stillness have evolved away from their origins. Rather than replacing present architecture, this thesis looks at creating relief alongside and within the existing commotion. It does not pit extreme against extreme but instead asserts that the city works best in a less homogenous state. Contrasting conditions and what falls in between are best when all are present.

The intention of the research was to explore the importance of contemplative civic space and how this could be translated into the creation of multiple reading rooms in downtown Auckland. This process activated thoughts on how architecture could create relief through insinuated design and encourage sustained pause spaces in the metropolitan environment. Questions on a contemplative architecture and its specific relationship of both detachment and connection to its context were also provoked.

The project proposes four reading rooms on distinctive sites that speculate how contemplation can be interweaved into our daily lives in the face of the frantic.

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