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.

Stair Movement Diagrams

Walk up
walk downIn order to explore how the body responds to staircases, I took a series of photographs of a person walking up and down the stairs, and then traced over the form. The main points of the body were then highlighted to represent the changing form and movement. These tests were used to inform the stair designs in my thesis.

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.


Wax Stair Models

Experimental wax model of stairs from my thesis

Experimental wax models of stairs (from my thesis)

Wax modelWax modelWax modelsThis series of wax models explores the form of illusive staircases. The Escher inspired designs are intended to create the illusion of infinite loops or spaces. The forms were then used to develop an interior spatial experience for one of the architectural interventions for my thesis.

Staircase Light Movement


Light painting representing movements of a figure walking up and down stairs captured with a long exposure

Light painting representing movements of a figure walking up and down stairs captured with a long exposure

For my thesis exploration of staircases, I started by investigating how people move up and down stairs. I wanted to represent the movement as a fluid motion, so I figured the best way to do this was by using light. I attached LED’s to various parts of the body including head, arms, and legs, and then took long exposure photographs to capture the movement. The most interesting result was the difference in motion of the foot when ascending and descending. When walking up the shape is more rounded and arched, however going down the shape flattened. You can see in the images above, the change between the red and green lines on the steps. Also visible is the placement of the hand when moving up and down the staircase, as opposed to not using the rail at all.