Thesis Site

Site AnalysisSite locationsPathThis is the site for my thesis, the popular ‘Sculpture on the Gulf’ walk on Waiheke Island, New Zealand. The trail starts from near the ferry terminal and weaves its way out around the headland. I identified six individual sites for the location of the staircase architectural interventions.

Zoo Hotel


Exterior view of Wellington Zoo Hotel with Circus School visible through the trees

The hotel is a two storey building to keep it in relation to the human scale and surrounding built context. The chosen materials represent the various layers of density from the solid concrete walls, to the timber slated cladding, to the segments of stacked glass. These glass walls allow people to view aspects of the internal programme as a distorted movement. The stairs leading up to the entrance of the building are angular timber pieces that prompt movement through the space. The materials also intend to reflect the zoo’s environmentally conscious image and fit into the natural surroundings. Gravel roofs also conceal the building when viewed from higher locations within the site.

All rooms either have views into the zoo and some of the enclosures, or look out across the street. The rooms are varying sizes for different bed configurations, some larger to suit families with children, couples or single rooms. The angular walls provide relief from other generic hotel room layouts. Each room is a slightly different shape with varying exterior treatments and sightlines, therefore each space offers a different spatial experience for hotel residents. The entrance atrium for the zoo is a large double height space which the bridge crosses. People can either enter the zoo here, browse the shop, or move into the cafe and restaurant which also caters for the hotel visitors. The cafe is located in the corner so can be viewed from the street from passersby, but can also act as a separate entity if required. Outdoor seating allows visitors to enjoy the surrounding environment. The hotel lobby is separated so can function for afterhours access when the zoo has closed. this space is also double height with a curved stair and lifts leading up to the next level. A function room on the first floor provides for conferences and meetings that may be held at the zoo or circus.

The ‘spinal cord’ or bridge connects all the segments of the building and acts as the passage of circulation. The bridge is a steel and glass structure to expose the sense of the skeletal form. This pathway leads across to join to the circus and allow visitors a glimpse of the performers. It also extends in the opposite direction and out into the tress so visitors can be suspended amongst the vegetation. As people walk through the hall spaces they catch glimpses of the distorted exterior through the stacked glass walls. These spaces are internal gardens so inhabitants feel as if they have a connection with the outside environment. The spaces can also provide passive heating and ventilation. The components of the components of the building form can be considered a ‘system of experience’ with regards to the spinal relationship.

  • Nerve/reflex – The initial reaction within a space
  • Sensory – Activation of the senses within a space
  • Motor – An action of physical interaction within the space

Thesis: Stairs – Site Two

new final site2

Screen Shot 2013-03-16 at 12.29.19 PMexterior1The second stair design for my thesis takes the form of an illusive interior space set amongst the trees. The shape was inspired by a series of wax models experimenting with shadows. The space consists of a range of layered forms with a variety of sizes and configurations of stairs. As the light filters through the trees, the light and shadow effects change across the day creating the illusion of more stairs.

Thesis: Stairs – Site Six

Site 6The final design in the series of six staircases for my thesis is a nostalgic monument positioned at the end of the sculpture walk. The classic obelisk form is deconstructed by the curving wireframe enclosing the shape. Visitors can interact with the structure and reflect on the journey. The deep shadows and composition was also inspired by de Chirico’s paintings.

Thesis: Stairs – Site Three

Sam Render 1Camera obscura image 2The third design for my thesis combines the form of a staircase with a camera obscura. Small holes in the side of the structure allow light to enter the dark interior and project images of the surrounding landscape on the surface inside. The design plays on a sense of reality and unreality with the reversed images of the exterior existing steps enclosed with the new staircase.


Thesis: Stairs – Site One

new site 1sequenceThis is the first staircase design from my thesis for the ‘Sculpture on the Gulf’ walk on Waiheke Island, New Zealand. The interactive piece identifies the threshold point at the start of the walk. Visitors can first view this marker when arriving on the island via boat. From the water the shape appears as the standard form of a staircase. However, when people approach the structure it is revealed that the sculpture is actually made up of a range of objects. Each piece represents a different part of the staircase which can be experienced in a number of ways.