The Urban Room: Threshold Placemaking at Te Wai te Whau
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This design thesis project, The Urban Room, is sited alongside Te Wai te Whau (Te Whau Awa/river) on the corner of Delta Avenue and Stock Street in New Lynn, a suburb of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. The research investigates local and industrial history of the maritime suburb, as well as its history as a threshold to move between places. As part of the Muddy Urbanism Lab, the project also draws on relationships between architecture and wai (water) by asking, “How can a public urban interior activate Te Whau Pathway?”. This is accomplished by bringing a complex, programmatic cross over between urbanism and interior architecture. The Urban Room design thesis develops ideas of the interior and exterior and also engages with the question, “What is a public urban interior?”. In other words, the thesis challenges the blurred line between interiority and exteriority, where laneways become corridors, living rooms spill into streets, and the scent of the kitchen creates an energetic atmosphere. Through the research, the term threshold placemaking is identified as a technique that develops the design proposition. Analysing psychological, programmatic, and atmospheric conditions of the interior the project proposes the possibility of an interior that is integrated with other realms. The proposal is for a versatile, programmatic Urban Room made through the mixing of private inhabitation, a ceramics studio and art gallery, a canteen, co-working office spaces, and the unfolding of a weekly flea and produce market. Finally, through the strategy of designing from the inside out, the Urban Room concludes that a public urban interior is not reliant on the boundaries of architectural form, instead it can be integrated with its surrounding landscape–both natural and urban–due to our perceived conditions of interiority.