Spatial Fabrication Studio

Week One: POSSIBILITY

UNDER GLASS

Refurbishing of the Auckland Domain Winter Gardens

The Project Design Brief

01. 03. 21

For our project design brief we have been asked to propose a scheme for a refurbishment or temporary retrofitting of the Auckland Domain Winter Gardens. There are a multitude of ways of interpreting the Winter Gardens, where we might choose to see them as arks, life support systems for biodiversity, archives, fantasies, relics, memorials, introverted landscapes, or even microcosmic metaphors. We are encouraged to be inquisitive and take our own approach to this brief, allowing us to learn and develop as designers and fabricators. Our design proposal must be a considered response and contribution to public space, where we are to select 1 of 3 design opportunities: An Education Space, Exhibition Redesign or Food Event Design.

The Site

Auckland Domain

Winter Gardens

The Auckland Domain Winter Gardens uphold both New Zealand’s natural and cultural heritage, a complex, highly protected Category 1 Heritage Site designed by Gummer and Ford. Built in stages between 1916 and 1928, the gardens comprise of two barrel-vaulted steel glasshouses (the Temperate House and the heated Tropical House), joined by an ornate courtyard containing several neoclassical statues (added in 1945 by local businessman William Elliot), a sunken pond (that was modified in 1954) and pergolas that back onto the Fernery (situated within the site of an old scoria quarry).

They were originally started during the First World War to commemorate the success of the Industrial, Agricultural and Mining Exhibition of 1913-1914, held on the same site. Additional funding for the Winter Gardens came from a variety of other local benefactors. Initially only the Temperate House was built within the years 1916-1921 for the year round display of flowering plants. Other parts of the Winter Gardens were planned at the same time but not carried out until the late 1920s, when a Tropical House, Fernery and connecting courtyard were added. The Auckland Domain had been a public park since 1844 but was considered to be an area that was frequented by ‘undesirables’. The Gardens were part of the gentrification of the park, providing a focus for promenades and an attraction for people in the area during the winter months. The Domain had been set aside as Crown land in 1841 and enshrined as a place of public recreation in 1844.

Lush, variegated, and fragrant, the glasshouses are microclimates in which plants unable to survive here can thrive. The worlds flora is sampled, collected and composed into a synthetic world: a microcosm of the globe. Tropical greenhouses foreshadowed the idea of globalisation. In a greenhouse the whole world fits together into a harmonious and controllable unity.

Each structure within the Winter Gardens was designed to display different types of flora, with the Temperate House having exotic potted plants and the Tropical House having more permanent plantings. The Fernery is notable for its portrayal of New Zealand plants, some of which may have come from a collection that won the first Loder Cup in 1926. The cup was established by the New Zealand Institute of Horticulture to encourage the appreciation and cultivation of native flora.

Historical Description Plaque at the Winter Gardens Entrance

The Gardens are among the best-preserved examples of their kind in the country and are nationally significant for demonstrating early 20th century garden design. They are important for reflecting changes in approach to flora during the 1920s, with a growing emphasis on New Zealand plants. They demonstrate a shift in attitudes towards the natural world at that time, where there is a greater developing interest in exotic flora discovered during the European colonial expansion. The Winter Gardens are also significant for their association with the Auckland Industrial, Agricultural and Mining Exhibition, and the role of public parks as places of recreation and education for all.

One of the most significant interior spaces of the 19th century was the Crystal Palace of the 1851 Great Exhibition in London by greenhouse designer Joseph Paxton. Using a combination of steel and glass, the Palace was a lucid dream of Empire and Capitalism. The shadowless interior was a “glass covered vacuum” that would “suit anything one wishes to bring into it” wrote Gottfried Semper. The Great Exhibition set the pattern for exhibitions around the world, with the Auckland Exhibition of 1913-1914 being held in the Domain, on the same site as the Winter Gardens.

The Auckland Domain Winter Gardens

Heritage New Zealand. Domain Wintergardens. Retrieved from https://www.heritage.org.nz/the-list/details/124

Wikipedia. (Sep, 07, 2020). Domain Wintergardens. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domain_Wintergardens#History

New Zealand History. Auckland Domain. Retrieved from https://nzhistory.govt.nz/keyword/auckland-domain

Heritage et Al. (Feb, 27, 2013). Great Auckland Exhibitions. Retrieved from http://heritageetal.blogspot.com/2013/02/great-auckland-exhibitions.html

Introduction Context talk

The Winter gardens: Empire, Zebras and the Wardian Case

As part of introducing us into this creative design brief and our assigned exploration site, the Auckland Domain Winter Gardens, we listened to a context talk conducted by Ian Henderson, whom describes, explains and elaborates on the sites history, landscape design movements and environmental modifications. Ian’s talk was incredibly eye opening as I never knew about the rich history behind the development of Garden Landscapes and Plant Discovery.

Architecture and Garden Landscaping developed and changed overtime through a traditional Eurocentric linear narrative composed of the main design movements of English Landscape Garden (1740-1820), Gardenesque (1830-1914) and Arts + Crafts (1880-1930). In the English Landscape Garden style, their idea was to create an idealised ‘seamless landscape’, one where nature is perfected and manicured and each landscape element such as landforms, copses and water are treated as a ‘unified whole’. Even to this day our Eurocentric kind of understanding has almost become the idea of what we think nature is and how we perceive it. However in the Gardenesque movement public open spaces and parks became available to all, with glasshouses becoming public as much as they became private, ideas focused around a ‘common touch’ and the ‘anti-picturesque’. During this period plant discoveries and plant collection also became very fashionable, where there were collectors in all parts of the globe from many different conditions. Glasshouses and Conservatories were tached onto aristocratic houses in order to house and accessibly display the ‘build empire’ of beautifully diverse, exotic plants and trees. Eventually a plants requirements became a design driver, thinking about the plant first and what it needs. However this meant that exisiting landscape conditions were ignored, hermetically separating and sealing off from the outside world. This concept of completely modifying and creating adaptive environments for living ecosystems is really interesting, yet somewhat problematic. We are creating a space to watch and observe their evolutionary natures unfold.

As part of this design brief, we can begin to consider or even contemplate the type of ‘public space’ in which the Winter Gardens are, the kind of public space that they offer. What public (or publics) do they support? Who do they speak to, serve, or exclude? Whose story do they tell? And more importantly looking ahead, what kind of public space could they offer? What public (or publics) could they support? Who could they speak to, serve, or include and what other stories remain to be told?

03. 03. 21

For today’s design workshop we began discussing the significance of Design Ethnography, along with the importance of Site Analysis and Context. In order to fully establish our own designed retrofitting into the Winter Gardens, it is crucial that we have a comprehensive understanding of the exisiting site, its contexts and its history. We are to create our own site analysis toolkit, focusing on various elements of the site to which we deem most important, relevant or interesting.

Building my Site Analysis Toolkit

The Site’s History

Digital NZ. The Domain Winter Gardens. Retrieved from https://digitalnz.org/records?text=the+domain+wintergardens#/

Its architectural details, history and overall significance

The Winter Gardens are part of a most notable complex of buildings, with its distinctive form harmonises with the parkland and complements the nearby dominant Auckland War Memorial Museum. It conforms to a well-defined model of 19th century garden structures, portraying some of Gummer’s architectural ideas assimilated from his overseas experiences. Between the wars the architectural firm of Gummer and Ford (comprised of William Henry Gummer and Charles Reginald Ford) dominated the Auckland scene and were New Zealand’s most prominent practice of the period. Yet in an era of rapidly changing economic and social conditions, Gummer and Ford imaginatively adapted modernist ideas and traditional architectural styles to suit the evolving requirements of their time. In transporting and adapting ideas from abroad, they had prepared the grounds for the full development of modernist design all by producing some of New Zealand’s most assured buildings such as The Domain Winter Gardens.

The Gardens have been a favourite promenade for Aucklanders since 1921 when the Temperate House was opened, a building commemorated and built with profits made from the Industrial, Agricultural and Mining Exhibition of 1913-1914. Its dominant decorative details are found within its constructional elements, the circular window mullions, the lattice structure of the roof trusses, the roof lantern and the contrast of masonry buttresses with the intricacy and details of the steel structure. The design comprises of two barrel vaulted glass houses showcasing steel lattice framework with masonry buttressing, separated by an enclosed court featuring a sunken pool. The positioning of the pool is located centrally, meaning that even though its architectural language is deemed classical, building users cannot walk on the lines of symmetry. Instead the layout forces them to make conscious decisions about approaching the buildings obliquely. The paved courtyard and pool with its accompanying pergola colonnades binds the two vaulted structures into one established architectural composition.

The design itself shows influences from the English Partnership of architect Edwin Lutyens and writer/garden designer Gertrude Jekyll, both well know designers of the Arts and Crafts Movement (1850-1910). The Arts and Crafts Movement upholds easily identifiable characteristics such as rustic houses and buildings (a Medieval revival), structured gardens either walled or hedged creating rooms for new spatial articulation, as well as mass planting and plant design that focused on sequence, time, seasons and colour. This movement was made up of designers whom wanted a return to the idillic, rural lifestyle, pre-industrial times focusing on craftsmanship and local materials, a reaction to the current city circumstances.

The gardens contain and spectate on the foreign. They may be beautiful, welcoming and historically significant, but they are also entangled with problematic ideas and imaginations.

Auckland Domain is the oldest and one of the largest park in the city at 75 hectares. It is home to the oldest continuously operating plant nursery in the country, striking historical architecture and sculpture, ponds, playing fields and native bush. The park is located atop of the Pukekawa Volcano, one of the oldest in Auckland’s volcanic field. The volcano consists of a wide explosion crater containing a small central scoria cone surrounded by a semi-circular tuff ring formed by the accumulation of volcanic ash. As the city’s oldest park, it was sold by Ngati Whatua to the Crown in 1840 and reserved five years later by a far-sighted George Grey, then Governor of New Zealand.

From pre-European times until after the Second World War, the Auckland Domain has been occupied by people involved in activities related to war and peace. It has been a site of battles and peace-making between Maori tribes, and later served as a parade ground and camp for troops. The Domain was secured as the site for a war memorial by an Act of Parliament in 1918, with an architectural competition being held to design the new building. The Auckland War Memorial Museum was created with many symbolic features and references to the Great War, a reflection of the heroic valour of the New Zealand soldiers.

Pukekawa was an ideal site for Maori habitation with the flat swampy crater providing eels and plenty of water. The hill itself was used for storage and as a space for Maori settlement, while the crater swamp provided the villages with water. Pukekawa translates to “hill of bitter memories”, referring to tribal battles fought there until 1828 between Hongi Hika leading the Ngapuhi from the North and Potatau Te Wherowhero leading the local Ngati Whatua. Commemorating the battles and the eventual settlement of the dispute stands on Pukekaroa, a Totara tree was planted by Princess Te Puea Herangi and is surrounded by a palisade. Although unintentional it is fitting that the War Memorial Museum and cenotaph were built on this commanding site roughly a century later. As the American writer Henry Miller once wrote, “The quiet village where the river flows so peacefully, the very spot where you choose to dream in, is usually the seat of ancient carnage“.

Auckland Council. Auckland Domain. Retrieved from https://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/parks-recreation/Pages/park-details.aspx?Location=126#wintergardens

Auckland Council. (Jul, 26, 2016). Auckland Domain Masterplan.

NZ Herald. (Feb, 10, 2011). Domains rich secrets revealed. Retrieved from https://www.nzherald.co.nz/aucklander/news/domains-rich-secrets-revealed/SZTWRNU6JFI3EJN47R36VG4AFM/

Auckland Museum. (Jun, 16, 2015). War and Peace in Auckland Domain. Retrieved from https://www.aucklandmuseum.com/discover/collections/topics/war-and-peace-in-auckland-domain

Macdonald, F. Auckland’s Green Heart. Retrieved from https://www.nzgeo.com/stories/aucklands-green-heart/

Auckland Museum. (2005). Pukekawa-The Domain Volcano. Retrieved from https://www.parnell.org.nz/?syscmd=dl&ID=46ad5e0c-22ca-4d6b-bc4a-15e7be9b76f8

Featured below is an illustration showing the location of manu whenua, heritage and cultural elements that are recorded and known within the Auckland Domain.

Manu Whenua, Heritage and Culture Map

As a continuation to building my research and conceptual thinking of the Winter Gardens, I started looking into the Course Resources and all the variety of material at our disposals for learning about and understanding the site. For starting this process I selected two readings that both deemed interesting and informative, particularly with regards to the idea of ‘Transparency’ and ‘Nature’.

Transparency: Literal and Phenomenal, Collin Rowe and Robert Slutzky (1963)
Theatre Country: The Ecology of the Visit, Geoff Park (2006)

Whilst analysing the reading Transparency: Literal and Phenomenal by Collin Rowe and Robert Slutzky, the notion of transparency is considered to be both a material condition and conceptual concern, where transparency can lead to discovery or realisation. This conceptual concern I find particularly interesting in relation to the Winter Gardens, as there seems to be superimpositions both contextually and through its structural qualities, where certain details may be highlighted or some even hidden. Yet when analysing the other reading The Ecology of the Visit by Geoff Park, an American thinker Paul Shepard asks the question How do we become native to the natural world? Where people have come to see themselves as ‘observers’ of nature, where nature is something to be observed and admired. However to create this feeling of ‘belonging’ in nature and for it to not be viewed as ‘scenery’, we must spiritually and materially nourish and respect the land.

By beginning to understand and comprehend the varied contextual significances of the site, in terms of its past historically, culturally and socially, it will allow me to create a much more considered design that reflects, represents, supports, highlights or responds to these contexts in some way. Once I had conducted some initial site research I started noting out the various elements and components that make up The Winter Gardens, along with the specially modified environments that their structures are able to create.

The Winder Gardens (Breakdown)

The gardens have many elements that all coherently work together to generate the richly unique environment that is well recognised and respected all around Auckland. With its two glass houses, central courtyard, fernery and surrounding pergolas, there are many crossing thresholds that lead you between each spatial component of the Winter Gardens, with some being public and open and others being much more private and enclosed. Combining our given design brief with my existing contextual research, I decided to establish a mind map jotting down all my initial thoughts, ideas and considerations towards the Winter Gardens.

Initial Thoughts, Ideas and Considerations on the Winter Gardens

So far my main interests into the site are stemming from its archives, its rich cultural and social histories, as well as its introverted landscapes, its fascinating array of flora that has been sampled and collected from all around the world, to then be composed into these harmoniously controlled, synthesised environments.

Week Two: PUBLICS

UNDER GLASS

Refurbishing of the Auckland Domain Winter Gardens

08. 03. 21

We began our first in class studio session with a Context Talk by Carl, whom encouraged and challenged us to take notes through sketching with very minimal words. This meant that we finished the talk with a series of drawings, all of which pieced together to create a brief overview of the Winter gardens historical, cultural and social contexts.

Visual notes taken from Context Talk

Using both a combination of my visual note taking, class discussions and overall site research, I began to dissect the Winter Gardens various influential and relevant contexts into groups (Historical, Cultural, Social, Environmental, Technological, Material and Sensorial). These contexts could be found in the site itself, in the work of other makers and creators, as well as in my own personal recollection of a place and its particular significance to me.

The Winter Gardens – Contexts Mind Map

The Domain Winter Gardens entire historical past is incredibly diverse and interesting, with many contextual stories and narratives to be told and heard. Ranging from historical and cultural events of war, expositions, settlements, memorials and even exhibitions, this site has experienced a numerous amount of occasions. Within my design brief, I wish to explore, highlight, reflect or even commemorate these contextual discoveries, as I believe they hold great importance to the Winter Gardens entire identity and what it has endured over all these years.

Also as a means to establishing the avenue I may wish to take in this design project, I reflected back on aspects of my past studio projects, whether it’s in regards to the contexts, processes or methods I used.

What is your favourite project/piece of work that you have produced while studying Spatial Design? Why is it your favourite? There are two projects that come to mind when I think of my favourite (Colour Complex and Everybody in the Place), yet for both very different reasons. Colour Complex was my favourite as I was able to fully explore my interests in design, aesthetics, detail and materiality, unleashing my creative potential within the interiors field. Yet Everybody in the Place was also my favourite because it allowed me to broaden my perspective towards how I choose to view social spaces, along with the actions and experiences that take place within them.

Content: What was the project about? For the Colour Complex project, our analysis and conceptual design thinking was to be centered around colour, its purpose and its direct impact on not only people but a spatial environment. My interpretation of this brief explored the interrelationship between characterised shapes, colours and patterning details, where they are embodied throughout the entirety of the space but in a multitude of ways. Establishing a dynamic, lively atmosphere generated through interactive connections between the spaces inhabitants and its captivating visual attributes, an expressive and boldly compelling geometric environment. For the Everybody in the Place project, our focus was on exploring space not only through aesthetic or haptic qualities but through actions and interactions, understanding how spaces are created, altered, modulated, and interfered with when something happens. My interpretation of this brief observed, explored and analysed into the social place of Monte Cecilia Dog Park, the behaviours, interactions and movement patterns that transpire between humans and dogs.

Context: What contexts informed the project and why were they of particular interest to you? In my Colour Complex project, the main contexts I focused on were in relation to social, sensorial and material considerations. These contexts I was interested in as they were of most relevance to the design narrative I was establishing and how I wished for my design intervention to influence/impact the exisiting space and people that move through it. In my Everybody in the Place project the main context I solely focused on was social, the people, dogs, inhabitants, actions, experiences and interactions that take place there. All these components drove the main focus of my design project and allowed me to explore ‘social contexts’ down many different avenues.

Process: What design processes did you use to make this work? What motivated you to explore, analyse, and research? In my Colour Complex project, I felt motivated throughout my design process to experiment with form, colour, shapes and surface pattern because I was really interested in the creative field of interiors and more ‘aesthetically’ focused design concepts. In my Everybody in the Place project, I was able to extend ideas and develop thoughts for different ways to document the site, along with aspects to research, observe and analyse. Through design processes of continuous documentation I was able to find my direct interest in the site, where the more I observed the more curious and inquisitive I was.

Methods: What tools did you use to make the project? Why did you use these tools in particular? In my Colour Complex project I used a variety of tools such as drawings, collage, model iterations, photography, digital modelling and design precedent research. However in my Everybody in the Place project I used tools of iterative documentation of sketches, photographs, diagrams, notes, observational studies, as well as artefact mapping and manifesto writing. For both projects all these tools allowed me to further explore, develop and refine my design ideas and conceptual thoughts in relation to the given briefs.

Outcomes: What made you particularly proud of this project? I was particularly proud of the overall outcomes of both of these projects, even with them being so vastly different. During the design process for each design project I followed my intuition, hunches and continued to iterate, make, explore in order to develop my conceptual thinking and deeper the meanings behind my work.

Making Connections: Reflect on the design work you have produced to date. Can you make connections between and across projects? Are there any recurring areas of interest? Across all my design projects to date, my main areas of interest tend to stem towards material or sensorial based focuses. Throughout all my projects, each one has explored into ideas or concepts surrounding a spaces atmospheric qualities, along with deep consideration and importance on materiality, textures and pattern. Not only pattern through its haptic and aesthetic characteristics but also through patterning in how inhabitants create, modulated, behave and interact both to the space itself and its visual details.

Mind Mapping

As a way of beginning to build up and establish the foundations of our self directed design brief, we were to develop a Mind Map exploring our possible areas of interest around the Winter Gardens so far. For my Mind Map, I wrote down five keywords that highlight various aspects of the site I am currently most interested in. From these central words I then radiated out a range of discovered contexts that relate too or connect in some way to my keywords. Within this Mind Map I also identified which programmes for the space I am considering implementing within the Winter Gardens.

Making a Map: Towards a Self Directed Brief

For my design proposal the two spatial programmes I am selecting between are the design opportunities of an Education Space or Exhibition Redesign. However I am also considering whether or not to keep them seperate or look into the potential to fuse these two spatial programmes together. The main question I am asking myself in terms of designing a retrofitting for the Winter Gardens is: the site is a space that values the life of the natural environment, so what are the values at play in the site and how do I respect those? Exploring the notion of ‘Nature’ and how the Winter Gardens preserve native and endangered tropical, fern and other flora. How it has environmental preservation and modifications built within its systems that allow it to do so.

In terms of my contextual research surrounding the Winter Gardens, my main interests stem from the rich historical and cultural stories embedded within the site, stories that I never even knew took place on the exact same grounds. I think it is important that people can learn, engage with and understand apart of the sites history and its identity. Where we can redraw from the past to build a relationship or some kind of connection to it. Along with its incredible history, I am also fascinated by the abundance of materiality, surface textures and patterns encapsulated with the Winter Gardens. Not only its architectural heritage and period features seen amongst the glasshouses and styled gardens, but in its lavish array of botanical collections on display, both within the glass houses, the fernery and entwined around the pergolas.

However from the beginning of this design brief I have always been intrigued by this idea of ‘Microcosm’ and how in a glass house its like its own world, a world that has been harmoniously composed into this ‘synthesised environment’, one that is to be observed and admired. The development of Glass Houses and styled gardens, from the Gardenesque and Arts and Crafts Design Movements, have both played apart in defining ‘nature‘ and how we today have come to perceive it. Contemplating the question of: what do we think of when we consider the word nature? What is nature or what does it look like to us?

Site Visit

Understanding the Site through Visual Imagery

10. 03. 21

The Domain Winter Gardens

Observing, analysing and understanding the overall site and its contextual attributes. What aspects of the site was I particular drawn too and why? What were my hunches and gravitational pulls towards the Winter Gardens?

The Site Visit. The Winter Gardens. Personally for me I don’t hold too many memories or perceptions of coming to this place. The last time I remember visiting the gardens was with my Nana, who absolutely adores plants, nature and the outdoors. Lets just say she was incredibly impressed, inspired and delighted by the exquisite array of both exotic and native flora put on show when she was there. However when I was younger, I do fondly remember walking around The Domain with my family, going to the Auckland Museum, watching the geese in the pond, soaking up the sun, and overall embracing the atmosphere of being outside amongst this ‘natural environment’ embedded within Auckland City.

Upon arrival to The Domain and Wintergardens I had already conducted a range of contextual research into the sites cultural and social histories. This background research allowed me to understand and appreciate the richness and significance of the site, which at my previous visits I had never before recognised or understood. Through this knowledge, I felt I was much more engaged with the site, noticing and valuing the finer details as I knew about the story or meanings behind them.

Before entering into the Winter Gardens, as a class we all walked around the sites exterior grounds. As part of analysing the entirety of the site, it is also incredibly important to explore, observe and understand its external surroundings and what is currently present and located alongside it. We started off our site visit at the Rockery located on the left hand side next to the Winter Gardens. I noticed the Rockery contained a bunch of scoria located around the periphery of a centralised pond. There was a multitude of greenery and foliage located around the pond and within it.

Surrounding one side of the Winter Gardens, along the external edge of the Temperate Glasshouse, there was gated fencing acting as a barrier to prohibit any of the public from walking through. While there we learn’t that the Temperate Glasshouse is currently having reinforcements done to ensure it is earthquake proof, as its foundations are fragile due to its heritage nature. All around the Winter Gardens there is an abundance of greenery, botanics and native New Zealand trees with particular significance on the dignified Totara tree planted on Pukekaroa Hill. As photographed above the tree is protected by a palisade built all around it, which is such a special way of portraying its historic significance to The Domain. The palisade around the tree almost made you feel privileged to be there and observe it, whereas if the barricade wasn’t there I would have perceived and regarded the tree in a completely different way. By upholding this distance between us and the tree, it was our way of showing our respect towards it. Once we had made our way around the exterior of the site, we proceeded towards the main entrance staircase of the Winter Gardens.

Whilst first arriving at the Winter Gardens entrance, we were greeted with a grand, curvaceous staircase that wrapped around to the main opening point of the gardens. The architectural heritage of the site is showcased right from the beginning, as you can immediately notice the traditional garden designs and original brick work. The entry leads you through one edge of the pergolas, crossing into the central courtyard area. There are many spatial patterns present within the gardens, were you are crossing the different thresholds transitioning between open and enclosed spaces. Yet I was instantly drawn to the pergolas and their fantasy like qualities, where the light filtered through the lush greenery that was intwined all along the wooden structures. It felt almost like you were in some other realm, some other heavenly atmosphere that had no relative connection to the present world. The pergolas I consider to be introverted landscapes in and of themselves, where you are encased by nature within these semi-enclosed runways.

The combination of the main courtyard and two glass houses were all noticeably reflective of the architectural and design style movement (Arts and Crafts) in which they are from. The overall spatial layout and symmetrical positioning of the sunken pool streamlining parallel with the surrounding pergolas is only one of the many obvious signifiers. In the courtyard I could hear sounds of the external environments (city chaos), the leaves rustling whenever the wind would pass through, water trickling from the fountain, as well as the odd bird chirping. The layering of materiality, surface and textures is a one of the major components to upholding, and ultimately giving the site its character. The weathering of materials and surfaces symbolise age, heritage and significance of the site. The Winter Gardens contains a mixture of man made materials such as glass, brick, wood and concrete, in conjunction with natural materials of plants, moss, water and scoria. Whilst walking around the gardens, all these textures, surfaces and smells made me want to explore more, look deeper into every corner, detail and feature being ‘exhibited’.

The Fernz Fernery

A Celebration of New Zealand’s unique Flora and Fauna

When entering into the Fernery it feels like you are in a completely contrasting environment from the rest of the Winter Gardens, where you have crossed through a different threshold.

Based from my previous visit to the Winter Garden, I remember the fernery having a completely different feel and atmosphere from the rest of the gardens, however this site visit only heighten and strengthen these thoughts and feelings. In the fernery I felt sheltered away, almost protected from the rest of the world as the dense native greenery in coherence with the pergolas creates this roofing, almost ‘shell’ like effect. The built pergola structures act as a protection for nature growing where the trees and plants grow up, around and within them. The pergolas blended in with all the greenery, it was as if they had become apart of the flora overtime. In the fernery I could sense a cooler climate as you are lower to the ground in an old quarry, as well as not having direct sunlight streaming through, you are enclosed and shaded by large natives. Walking around and being amongst the fernery was probably my favourite part of the entire site visit, as it felt incredibly soothing and relaxing. I almost felt out of touch of what we were actually there to do. Instead I was fully immersed in the present, admiring the greenery just like on a meditative, nature walk somewhere out of Auckland, out of the city. In terms of this design brief I feel there is lots of opportunity to explore this mediative space further, however I do believe its beauty should remain untouched as with too much disturbance it may lose the qualities its worked so hard to possess. After walking through the fernery we then headed back around into the heated glass house.

The complete array of lush, variegated exotic plants composed into this synthesised, controlled unit was incredible to be surrounded by. The first sensorial features I noticed once in the glass house was the abundance of smells and temperature increase. Scents of florals in cohesion with dampness. Smells that I could sense would change overtime, with the seasons of new plants or flowers blooming. I could feel the hazy, humid air on my skin as the heating vent systems pumped warm air throughout the enclosed glass structure. It was damp in there. The wetness of the concrete, the lily pond placed in the centre of the glasshouse, the moist atmosphere meant condensation had built up on the glass surfaces and flora. Textures of water droplets transpiring from leaf to leaf, plant to plant. The brightly coloured and patterned botanics placed in contrast against the heritage brick walls I found really stunning. Where the plants had began growing up the walls, interweaving in between each other. They are all making space for themselves as they try to live harmoniously in this confined unit. I was captured by the notion of ‘the exotic’, where the exhibited plants are very different, strange and unusual. Plants that we knew we had never seen before and that we wouldn’t see out in the open, out in their ‘natural environments’. Each individual plants colours, patterning and textures are completely unique and distinctive to them. Where they have each been collected and sampled from such varied environments all around the world. Yet in this glass house they have been arranged to live together, under the same conditions, in the same space. The glass house is a microcosmic metaphor, a miniature representation of the diverse array of nature, environments that extend over all corners of the globe.

Week Three: MATERIALITY

UNDER GLASS

Refurbishing of the Auckland Domain Winter Gardens

15. 03. 21

Beginning this weeks class studio workshop, we were re-informed about the importance and significance of Materiality, both within the site and the concept itself. When on our site visit last week, I was heavily drawn to the diverse array of surfaces, textures and materials present. The Winter Gardens contain a mixture of man made materials such as glass, brick, wood and concrete, in conjunction with natural materials of plants, moss, water and scoria. This direct contrast works in perfect cohesion in this space. Its what gives its character, charm and value. These material features are major contributing factors to what evoke the atmospheric and sensorial qualities present at the site.

Materiality within the site is occupied through a range of aesthetic characteristics of texture, pattern, shape and colour. Pattern particularly was highly noticeable as it could be found on both softer, more flexible surfaces all throughout the array of greenery, as well as applied and embedded into hard, denser surfaces of tree roots, brickwork and glass windows. Considering overlaying patterns that may be temporal or fixed, and are these evident at the site if they are not necessarily ‘material’.

Surface, textures, materiality and details

The weathering of materials was extremely evident whilst at the site, the sites ever changing conditions throughout its lifespan has lead to both the natural and man made materials to deteriorate overtime. The weathering of materials showcased through diverse surface textures is what symbolises its age and heritage value, but most importantly it’s apart of what makes the Winter Gardens so special and captivating to visit. All the textures, surfaces and patterns made me want to explore more, look deeper, closer into every corner, detail and feature being ‘exhibited’. It also encourages me to want to recognise and consider not just the obvious external beauty portrayed at the site through its harmoniously composed glasshouses and all over symmetrical design, but instead having focuses towards the ‘imperfections’, the disregarded, the irregularities, the overlooked details. The site contains superimpositions both contextually and through its structural qualities, where certain details may be highlighted or some even hidden. There are a multitude of transparencies that lie within the Winter Gardens that I am excited to revisit and explore further.

As part of developing our understanding of materiality, during both studio sessions this week we were scheduled into have a Wood/Metal Workshop and Laser Cutting Workshop in assigned group tutorials. We were extremely lucky to have the opportunity to attend these workshops as they helped us to begin to gain a preliminary understanding of how a material performs, its fitness for purpose along with its physical properties. It helped us to understand how the selection and manipulation of materials could enhance the conceptual, formal and technical underpinnings of our design projects, along with encouraging us to enter into a conversation with materials in order to get to know them better.

Prior to these workshops we were asked to design and construct a grid or pattern in the dimensions of 150 x 165mm informed by our own site research and documentation. I decided to generate many iterations of pattern designs, all stemming from different features and surface impressions I observed whilst visiting the Winter Gardens.

Pattern One
Pergola Trellis

Pattern Two
Glasshouse Foliage Density

Pattern Three
Growth Experimental Line

Pattern Four
Courtyard Layered Steps

Pattern Five
Pergola and Ferns Intertwined

Pattern Six
Glasshouse Waterlily Pond

17. 03. 21

For today’s studio workshop we were scheduled to have our Laser Cutting Workshop in our assigned group tutorials. Using the grid and pattern drawings I had previously generated, we were to select one to digitalise in order to trial printing through the laser cutter. For my tutorial with the laser cutter I wanted to experiment with a slightly more intricate pattern.

Pattern 7Tree Impression Surface

From this established pattern design, I started experimenting around with iterations on Illustrator, using curvature line work to create an intricately repetitive detail. Once I had created the detail, I wanted to try incorporate it with the initial grid lines of patterns one and five, considering how I could emphasise a contrasting effect between the diverse line forms.

In our laser cutting tutorial I was able to learn about how the machines operate, the various kinds of materials they are able to cut, as well as have the opportunity to laser cut one of my constructed patterns onto MDF wood.

Pattern Design Laser Cut Experiment

From the workshop we learnt about the laser cutting machines potential to either cut entirely through a material or to engrave a material at various depths. In this design I played around with cutting some selected curves slightly deeper than others, in order to allow light to pass through each chosen opening. When utilising the laser cutter in the future, it is important that I take into consideration and carefully plan out what aspects of my design with be cut and at what depth to allow me to generate my desired outcome.

For the rest of the studio session, we had a collaborative class discussion surrounding beginning to think about and establish our positioning statements and potential brief directions – What is our ‘gravitational pull‘ to the site? What are we truely interested in, whether that has stemmed from site research, our site visit or a combination. We started by each writing down our keywords that highlight various aspects of the site we are currently most interested in exploring further. From these words we then began radiating out what in relation to these words we interested in, what contexts connect to them, digging deeper into what these words mean to us in relation to our position with the Winter Gardens. Shown below is the mind map I created during this exercise.

Extension Mind Mapping

After creating these mind maps we all came together as a class to observe and analysis what others were thinking, how they are beginning to associate themselves to the site and what aspects they are interested in. What connections can be made between ideas? Noticing where both the similarities and contrasts are. In our discussions I noticed lots of people had the same keywords, yet their extensions or interests within these words were very different. It was really beneficial to see how others were thinking about the site, what keywords they are exploring and particularly what about these words in specific.

Week Four: CLIMATE

Under Glass

Refurbishing of the Auckland Domain Winter Gardens

22. 03. 21

Today we had the opportunity to revisit the Auckland Domain Winter Gardens for a collective second site visit. The main focus of todays site visit was to extend on our previous observations, discoveries and interests made from our first time being present at the gardens. In conjunction with these remarks, we were required to bring along our mind maps that we had been developing in studio. Using these initial hunches, thoughts and considerations to drive what potential areas of the Winter Gardens we may wish to further explore within our own self constructed design briefs.

During this site visit, we were asked to gather into our various study groups where each member was to almost act as a ‘tour guide’ taking all of us around to the different areas of the Domain Winter Gardens they are most interested in so far. We all took turns expressing our current ideas and feelings towards the Winter Gardens, what parts of the site we are drawn too and why. During each tour we were all constantly asking questions, expressing ideas and collaboratively discussing what is currently at the site and what our future insertions could be, what stories or narratives they could tell and how they would influence, change or alter the atmospheric conditions already present there. When it came to my turn, I decided to walk my group along and through the pergola structures and into the fernery. Both these two spaces, although very contrasting I felt most connected too and intrigued by for prospective areas that my design could take place or be associated too. However before beginning to think about what spatial programme I may choose to employ, it is important that I take into full consideration the sites contexts, its materials, and its environmental conditions, as these will all be influential factors within my design.

During this second site visit, my main focuses was to analyse and document the ‘imperfections’, the disregarded, the irregularities, the overlooked details. As the site contains superimpositions both contextually and through its structural qualities, there are certain details that may be highlighted or some even hidden, transparencies that lie within the Winter Gardens that I decided to revisit and explore more. I began by studying the textural layering of shape, line and detail concentrating towards the spatial areas of the fernery and pergola structures, as these areas both display and exhibit the ‘greenery’ in diverse ways.

These black and white images highlight where the surface textures of both the native and perennial plants juxtapose against the weathered brickwork, wooden trellis’ and concrete base flooring. Where the sunlight and shadows radiate off and against these structural constructs and how they filter into each spatial environment. These images really emphasise these atmospheric qualities, portraying how the Winter Gardens external environmental site conditions infiltrate and influence of these two individual areas.

Featured below is a compilation of visual imagery investigating moments within the site that I am intrigued by and interested in, the ‘imperfections’, the overlaying patterns, textural surfaces, material qualities, and how all these features evoke atmospheric and sensorial qualities at the Winter Gardens.

The porousness’ of material qualities, the weathering of the brickwork surfaces, a condensation film stretching over the glass windows, nature beginning to overrule any built structures by imbedding, interweaving and immersing itself on, in between and within these artificial forms. Where the Winter Gardens contains textural patterns that are both established and temporal and how these patterns overlay with each other whether evident or not. The discovery of how these patterns may be applied to surfaces due to exposure from environmental conditions changing their appearance overtime, or instead more fugitive if from filtered sunlight or shadowed figures. Patterns are also imbedded into varied surfaces through leaf imprints, tree trunks and evidently material characteristics.

As I am heavily interested in the Material Qualities of the site, I decided to generate a Materiality Palette and Colour Palette of the Winter Gardens, highlighting an extensive array of the main, focal materials and colour hues situated at the site.

The Various Materials Embedded within the Winter Gardens…

Materials may be natural, fixed, imbedded, and already exisiting within the original site conditions. Materials may be man made, applied too and brought into this space as structural constructs. Materials are diverse, and their qualities are ever changing when exposed to external environmental conditions. Materials are always coming and going.

Materiality Palette of the Winter Gardens

The Various Colour Hues Embedded within the Winter Gardens…

Colour may be implanted into the harmoniously composed garden arrangements or sprawling across the structural constructs. Colour may be fixed into the diverse display of materiality present, even where materials have started to wear away as time passes on. Colour may be inconsistent, changeable and fluctuate depending on the time of day, light and shadows, and seasonal influences.

Colour does play a vital role at the Winter Gardens as it is an aesthetic characteristic that helps contribute towards the atmospheric conditions of the site. The colours of the structural, man made elements of the site highly contrast against all the natural, organic elements. There is an abundance of green hues that are multi-layered throughout the site. The heated glass house contains an array of exotic plants, most of which contain unique patterning and colour definitions from their inherent natures. Fluctuations of bright, vibrant colours of pinks, oranges and purples were scattered all across the Winter Gardens, ranging from inside the glass houses to out in the central courtyard. The hues of the greenery situated against the brick walls created such an exquisite juxtaposition between the two elements, where their positioning against each other made the other even more striking to look at.

24. 03. 21

As part of this studio session, we were asked to bring in our developing mind maps that we had been working on at our previous site visit to the Winter Gardens. These mind maps contained the keywords that highlight various aspects of the site I am currently most interested in exploring further and what in relation to these words I am most interested in, their contexts and meanings in relation me and my positioning with the site. During our last site visit I was able too, from the discussions with my peers and tutors, note down additional ideas and thoughts with some radiating out from my keywords or others expanding on some of my previous thoughts. While at the gardens I drew an array of sketches in order to start visualising some of these thoughts along with being to see how I interpret the Winter Gardens through visualisations.

Extension Mind Mapping with Visuals

Within the studio session we were also asked to bring in our grid patterns that we had produced in the Wood and Laser Cutting Workshops. In these workshops we were able to not only progress our knowledge surrounding these creative techniques, but also our understanding of materiality constraints and how a material performs. For my laser cut grid pattern I chose to trial with a more intricate pattern, one inspired by the layering of contrasting lines and textural surfaces displayed at the gardens. However for my woodwork pattern I decided to experiment with wood carving tools and methods in order to produce a surface impression that contained a variety of engraved imprints. The raw impressions on my wood pattern contrast strongly against the surface cuts from the laser cutter, showing how similar materials can still perform extremely differently depending on what techniques are being carried out. During this design process, I wish to continue exploring various materials through generating experimental patterns, surfaces, details and textures utilising an array of materials and techniques.

Once I had fabricated these grid patterns I started playing around with shadows and light, considering how these surfaces interact with external environmental conditions, especially because lightness and shadow both coherently contribute to the atmospheric qualities generated at the site. How does light transpire or recede with these textural surfaces? Does it bounce off them, highlight certain components, or travel through entirely? What shadows do they cast or what shadows are being casted or silhouetted on them?

Utilising a combination of all the photographs, observations and thoughts made, note taking and textural rubbings, I wanted to gather together all this information to create some reflective site analysis documents. These pages explore the Winter Gardens with a range of differential perspectives, unpacking its unique features and details, its distinctive spatial areas, its atmospheric qualities and its material aspects.

As another way of further understanding and analysing the Winter Gardens through my own perspectives and focuses, I generated some intuitive sketches from when I was last present at the site itself. The settings, elements or inclusions within these drawings are features that I was intrigued by or deemed of certain interest, features that I wished to explore through graphite and paper, visual line work and tone.

Winter Gardens Observative Sketches

Within these sketches I was fascinated by the varying contrasts architectural details of the site, where barrel vaulted, industrial steel frameworks coexist with naturally deteriorating wooden pergola structures. The lush, overlaying greenery that juxtaposes and protrudes out onto any structure no matter where you look. The heritage and culturally significant details, ones that are to be recognised for their utter importance or significance to the site. Along with the more subtle, overlooked details, the ‘imperfections’ that lie within these perfectly compose, formal constructs.

Week Five: SEQUENCING

UNDER GLASS

Refurbishing of the Auckland Domain Winter Gardens

In order to understand and comprehend the positioning statements of other designers, with regards to their conceptual and contextual ideas, their approaches to a site, its concepts, history, and overall programming of the space, I began to research into various design precedents. Whilst researching into the work of ARM Architecture, I was particularly drawn to three specific yet contrasting design projects that they had undertaken. ARM Architecture has a “reputation for creating culturally significant buildings and precincts that stretch the boundaries of architectural and urban thought”. They are known for immersing themselves in the culture, history, usage or environment of a project and incorporating those elements into their design work, which for our current project The Winter Gardens this approach is vital.

One of their major design projects, although most daring, inventive and controversial, included the National Museum of Australia based in Acton, Australian Capital Territory. The project consists of two big architectural ideas that guide the building’s shape: the Boolean string, which embodies their views on Australian history as being tangled and incomplete, and the jigsaw puzzle, which signifies that the Museum is conceptually unfinished. The Boolean string is mostly imaginary as it coils, folds and tangles in three dimensions around the site, where as for each jigsaw puzzle piece, each one has a different stylised appearance and construction type. This project uses a series of different materials, surface finishes and patterns to articulate different perspectives and tell a complex story of a fraught history. Where there is an entanglement of stories that bind together juxtaposing ways of thinking and viewpoints. The building enables people to reflect their own ideas and stories.

Another design project produced by ARM Architects that I was drawn to included the work titled ‘WINTERGARDEN’ which deemed incredibly appropriate to investigate further with regards to my own project. They describe their WINTERGARDEN as “transforming an interstitial space into something useful, social and beautiful”. The distinctive frame structure they derived from a Voronoi diagram which is a network of tessellating cells that occur throughout nature. In this case they have been inspired by sections of a leaf. In the WINTERGARDEN the Voronoi determines the vertical frames that shape the space, and the way the ground is divided into planters, paved cells and grassed cells. With regards to this work I love how they have incorporated and utilised aspects of nature by being influenced by its organic beauty and details. They have used natures characteristics as the main driving force behind their overall design concepts and visual aesthetics.

Lastly the project ‘Shrine of Remembrance’ is the most visible and poignant war memorial, however ARM Architects have expanded it into a exhibition space and education facility. Their designs are described to be “innovative yet sensitive to the Shrine’s historical and symbolic functions”. The Galleries of Remembrance and education centre were major additions yet, because they’re concealed in the existing undercroft, they were able to maintain the original silhouette. Each element has been well considered and has underlying meaning or significance of its presence. Within this project their main concerns were to retain and actively reuse the existing undercroft space. Details particularly materialistic choices were restrained and neutral, yet brought significance to what they represented or symbolised. They have respected what was already there, as the additions do not take away from its purpose, but instead only heightens its importance and compliments the memorial site.

Some other design precedents who focus more solely of garden aesthetics and design I gathered through exploring the book ‘The Artful Gardener’ by Gil Hanly and Rose Thodey. They introduce gardens as a unique art-form, one that allows us to explore their creativity using a living, growing, ever-changing medium. A few features from the book which I was most interested in and/or intrigued by began with a giant sized pergola structure designed by Leo Jew. Its proportions relate to the wider contextual landscapes in which it sits and throws equally magnificent shadows which I absolutely love. The shadows cast mesmerising strong grid patterns throughout the entirety of the structure as you walk within it. Another artful feature was from the Chaumont-surloire Garden Festival where the Birth of Venus artwork had been cut into puzzle pieces that float on a pond, a very clever way of combining sculptural elements with water. Lastly the pergola designed by Brigid Maire showcases a sleek, modern design that displays self-watering antipodes planter and native series of pots. She is playing with multiple ways of exhibiting plants, whether its traditionally embedded into the ground, or perhaps not.

12. 04. 21

For our first lesson back in studio after the mid semester break, we began by having a collaborative class discussion surrounding our workload, time management and the various outcomes expected to be met within the creative process of this design project. As part of developing and progressing our designs and ideas each week, every Monday in our study groups we will have group review sessions to pin up and share our design developments throughout the week, our drawings, sketches, models, findings, research, materiality, experimentations and anything in between. Starting these sessions this week, we had our first group review where we all shared our initial thoughts and ideas surrounding the brief and what aspects of it we are most interested in. Within each review we all gave feedback expressing our initial impressions of their ideas, along with asking any relevant questions where clarification or more information was needed. These discussions were open and conversational, allowing everyone to expand on each persons feedback, generating more ideas, pathways and conceptual concerns that could potentially be explored.

When it came to my turn for review I decided to explain my initial thoughts and perceptions of the site, what aspects of it I am most interested in and what conceptual concerns and ideas I have been generating in relation to the Winter Gardens and its contexts. Using my mind map as guidance and visual evidence for what my ‘gravitational pull‘ to the site is and what I am truely interested in, all stemmed from a combination of my site research and site visits. I also showed them some of my experimental sketches of some of the various details, patterns and textures I observed whilst at the site. As I’m still in the beginning stages of developing my conceptual ideas and spatial programme, it was incredibly beneficial to verbalise all my ideas and hear how others perceive them. They were able to give me some really helpful feedback, as well as open my views to new possible findings, ideas and understandings of how I could progress forward with my project brief. They gave me new perspectives to consider with regards to how my ideas could develop into a particular spatial programme, as I expressed this was the next step I was struggling to develop on. Using their new perspectives as promoters for further idea development, I began extending on my initial positioning statement plan to add additional points, drawing connections between them and my exisiting ideas.

Positioning Statement Planning

Utilising my key contextual and conceptual concerns from within my positioning statement plan, I began constructing my first iteration exploring the aspects of the Winter Gardens I am most interested in and the direction my design brief will take.

Positioning Statement Iteration

14. 04. 21

For todays studio session we were able to individually progress with our projects, discussing both with the tutors and in our study groups any current thoughts, ideas or questions that we may have. During this lesson I was able to speak with one of my tutors, where I shared my initial positioning statement and my potential areas of interest both within the site and for my spatial programme. We analysed my positioning statement, expressing how there is an incredible amount of depth and interesting conceptual ideas there to explore. As for my next steps, I need to begin experimenting with my chosen spatial programme and these ideas to cohesively develop an array of design iterations of possible interventions. Once I start to play around and explore these ideas, with the inclusion of relevant design precedents to help guide my work and expand my horizons, will I truely be able to comprehensively establish a thorough, well thought out plan that supports and reflects my statement.

After my discussion with my tutor I decided to revisit my positioning statement, annotating the various contextual and conceptual concerns I have indicated and explored within my writing. By breaking down and re analysing my own writing, it is incredibly beneficial to helping me figure out what exactly I am saying and what elements of the site I am interested in, pulling out and highlighting the parts that will help me further progress within this design brief. For my next iterative development of my statement I need to consider the addition of another paragraph, in order to summarise my ideas and connect back to my chosen spatial programme and overall design.

Positioning Statement Annotations

Using the prompters from my collaborative discussions and positioning statement annotations, I began drawing out the foundations of my project, exploring the main properties of the site I am interested in, questioning and sharing my appreciations of the site to point attention or shed light to whats already present. By establishing these elements, it will allow me to not only extend my ideas, but most importantly clarify and synthesise my thoughts in order to create a clear pathway for how I wish my project to continue developing.

Following on from my collation of ideas, clarifying the direction I wish for my project to take, I started to gather a collection of ‘inspirational images‘ for which to help stimulate an array of potential idea explorations for my chosen spatial programme, an exhibition redesign.

With correspondence to my inspirational images, and in continuation of my exisiting design precedent research I began investigating into other artists, designers and creators in order to build up my knowledge and expand my horizons even further to draw inspiration from diverse sources.

I was initially drawn to this article as it featured an array of compositional planting and landscape layouts. Combining both the material concerns of nature and plants with these built constructs, particularly in relation to glass planes and steel framing. How they have concealed nature within these set restraints of layered and stacked upon glass boxes, a very unique way of shutting nature off from its external environments.

This temporary installation created by architects Zeller and Moye is a contained space designed to be a personal microcosm that can be inserted within any public space. Once inside, the focus of attention shifts away from the immediate context at street level, instead to the open sky provoking an intimate relation with the nature right above us. The semi-mirror skin offers a dual effect of reflection and transparency. At the outside the surrounding area is reflected in the mirrored surface making it blend in with its environment up to the point where it becomes almost invisible. On the inside, a kaleidoscopic effect expands the contained space to a multiple of its own scale whilst maintaining views to the outside and passers-by. I was drawn to this idea of constructing ones own moveable private space, almost as though its its own miniature glass house that provokes a more intimate relationship between humans and nature.

The Granby Winter Garden sits at the heart of the Granby neighbourhood, housing a communal indoor garden, a meeting and events space and accommodation for artist residencies. The Winter Garden sought to transform the typically private space of the terraced home into a focus for neighbourhood activity; an unexpected indoor garden and a unique resource for creative community action, cultural production, and exchange. I was drawn to the materiality concerns when I first noticed this work, the layering of original brickwork in coherence with coloured steel, wooden elements and featured planting.

I was initially drawn to this article as it featured an array of compositional planting and landscape layouts, all showing an outrageous homage to industrialised glass house inspired spaces. These large scale projects utilise extensive planting schemes and patterned steel framing of glass paneling to create these ‘sphere’ shaped atmospheres, containing a combination of people, plants and infrastructure.

Nestled among meadow grasses, bellflowers, water lilies, and other plantings, visitors to the New York botanical garden can find themselves immersed in polka-dotted trees and monumental floral sculptures as part of an expansive exhibition of work by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. The exhibition traces the artist’s lifelong fascination with the natural world and highlights its countless manifestations rooted in her childhood spent in the greenhouses. I was drawn to her works as her direct interests in nature and working within these glass houses leads her to create forms that could be viewed on the microscopic level.

This connected plant pot designed by Royal College of Art graduate Jen-Hsien Chiu feeds or starves a plant depending on its user’s behaviour. I was completely drawn to this micro scaled device that contains one singular plant element. Where the human is only able to observe it, almost resembling an artefact that may be displayed in a museum, its on show, to be looked at, watched and observed. It has also has been contained within a very distinct set of constraints.

Makoto Azuma’s New York exhibition aims to make visitors “radically reconsider the power of flowers”. He is known for creating expressive sculptures and installations using flowers and plants in order to make people reconsider how they view these nature elements. The pieces in this collection speak to the theme of Human, Nature, and reflect a series of manmade interventions in materials, forms and principles from the natural world. I was drawn to his work because of his unique depiction and recognition of nature, either being set within these hollow constraints, or radically out within the open.

Industrial, graphic and interactive designers at Fabrica created a series of sensory installations that aimed “to give a visual and experiential form to temperature” for air conditioning brand Daikin, in Milan last week. Following research into the effects of temperature, the designers curated a series of kinetic, material and sound-based works. I was drawn to the way each element was set up and arranged, reflecting as if you are in a lab observing an experiment being undertaken right in front of your eyes. The miniature steel frames containing various elements being placed all around the room.

This work produced by Stephanie Syjuco I was highly intrigued by as its response, relationship and depiction of nature is very confronting. As part of a research project involving growing crops, this installation involves indoor and outdoor control groups testing optimum levels of artificial lighting for developing plant growth. This artificial representation and recognition of the qualities of nature could also be incorporated into a small scale Victorian Glasshouse based on the Crystal Palace.

Week Six: INTERIOR

UNDER GLASS

Refurbishing of the Auckland Domain Winter Gardens

19. 04. 21

Beginning this week we had another group review session sharing our current design developments and ideas in relation to the given brief. For this peer review we joined another study group which allowed us to see others progressive work and a diverse range of other projects. Seeing others work was incredibly interesting as everyone has such varied ideas and ways of approaching this brief, as well as learning from and understanding others practices and ways of making. Within each review we all gave feedback expressing our initial impressions of their ideas, along with asking any relevant questions where clarification or more information was needed. These discussions were open and conversational, allowing everyone to expand on each persons feedback, generating more ideas, pathways and conceptual concerns that could potentially be explored. We were able to get varying perspectives, ideas and opinions on our work, as this time around we had others observing our work who had never seen or heard our concept before. This allowed for new insights and developments to be made. For this review I laid out a range of my investigative explorations of the site, through observational notes, photographs, sketches, drawings, along with my current positioning statement.

Progressive Work for Review Session

During this lesson when it was my turn to share, I explained my initial positioning statement and my potential areas of interest both within the site and for my spatial programme. We all analysed my positioning statement, expressing how there is an incredible amount of depth and interesting conceptual ideas there to explore. However I expressed to my group how I am struggling to develop the kind of approach I should take with my spatial intervention into the Winter Gardens. Even though I know I wish to proceed forward with an exhibition design, I now need to figure out the the kind of exhibition/installation design I wish to do, its details and how it will outlay, impact and be arranged within the exisiting site, all while being respectful to its heritage land and buildings. Along with this I also need to consider the type of spatial narrative and atmosphere I wish to convey or create with my design.

Some of the key insights we discussed within my review session were made from observations of my explorative sketches, how the glasshouses are symmetrical and ordered, yet the plants are already irregular and unordered. Where I could break the ‘contained frame’ that is trying to control the plants, letting the plants take over “fill it up, grow, let it grow”. The repetition of the line, waves, shifts depending on the nature of the site – a field of lines that fill up the space, fills the whole space so it stops people from being able to access certain spaces. Still utilising my exhibition programming idea as it could allow for this stimulated overgrowth, where I add a little bit, or make an excessive exaggeration. However thinking about this in conjunction with my initial ideas and positioning statement, I begin to wonder that if the plants or ‘natural environment’ is set free, wouldn’t its overgrowth still be controlled within these set constraints, both of the Winter Gardens barriers and my control over its exact placement and profusion within the site itself.

In my review conservation we also highlighted the importance of the placement and arrangement of an exhibition design, considering where an exhibition shouldn’t be or perhaps wouldn’t be typically. For my next progressive steps in my design process, I need to establish what I exactly want to say, my design needs to reflect what I want to say. I need to take a stance and have my position, where I am responding to an issue, idea or concern, where my voice is coming through in my work. As a means of doing this I need to keep researching into installation/exhibition artists by looking at how they respond to political or ecological issues or concerns – how they choose to respond in a certain way.

In order to further progress forward with clarifying and synthesising my conceptual thoughts and exhibition programming design within the Winter Gardens, it was important I researched, sourced and established a strong collective of design precedents to help guide, influence and structure my work and working methods. These precedents will help me to gain further understanding of conceptual installation and exhibition art, as well as open my horizons to potential materiality and surface finishes.

Hanging Gardens (2018)
Our Love is like the Flowers, the Rain, the Sea and the Hours
Light Years (2017)
Turner Prize (2011)
Untitled (2015)

Martin Boyce

Martin Boyce’s sculptures and spatial installations are rooted in an interest in landscape. This often takes the form of a collapse between the exterior and the interior, the natural and the constructed and how a sense of place can be described on the basis of details and fragments.

For Boyce his work is ‘all about landscape’ and ‘the collapse of nature and architecture’. He is interested in the psychological experience of space, abandoned or abject terrains, and the material manifestations of time. This installation artist and sculptor utilises an array of multimedia facets by borrowing the forms of objects found in ordinary indoor and outdoor settings. Boyce then reduces, skews, and abstracts these shapes such that they feel familiar but are not immediately recognisable.

Jamie North

Terraforms (2014)
Inflection (2019)
Inflection (2019)
Succession (2016)
Terraforms (2014)

The work of Jamie North operates at the intersection of the natural and the human-made, where his cast concrete sculptures, plant species are immersed to seek out ‘natural’ growth lines and patterns. Overtime the selected plants become entangled with the inorganic concrete, creating a continuously evolving and living sculptural form.

There is a fascinating merger of dichotomies at play within his sculptures, both within the unpredictability of the lush, greenery imbedded within the crevices and their fixed, obdurate exteriors. Norths works simultaneously invoke ideas of progress and collapse and industry and ruin. He employs the use of industrial materials as a means to further highlight the disjunction between the naturally occurring and the man-made.

Texas. Big Wave Surfing (2017)
Try it with less pennies and direct light (2018)
I can’t nail the days down (2018)
Leap, Oh Leap! (2015)

Kate Newby

Kate Newby’s work engages with various situations using everyday actions and materials in order to displace and challenge how contemporary art is exhibited, viewed and archived. Her works consist of site specific projects that form relationships with locations through actions, drawing directly from the sites in which they are exhibited. Kate’s work bounces backwards and forwards between initial observations, the process of working, and the sites that she works in.

Her material is her immediate environment, language, objects, architecture and personal relationships. Drawing out both the physical and poetic attributes of her materials Newby’s work visualises an encounter and forefronts action. She collapses and confuses the lines between process and product, doing and documentation.

Heidi Norton

Untitled (2018)
Untitled (2011)
The Forest Magician (2018)
Exploring the Instability of Time
To Be Looked At (2019)

Heidi Nortons work upholds a strong connection to land, plant life and nature. Through the mediums of photography, sculpture, and painting, her work speaks to the instability of time, while investigating ideas of preservation through material and modes of display. She works regularly with materials of varying transparency such as resin, glass, and wax in a way that preserves, encases, and displays embedded plant life and organic forms.

The plants act as a metaphor for larger, macro ideas of nature and its ecological cycles, or perhaps its impermanence and futility. Houseplants are encased, pressed, or “frozen” using materials that speak directly to histories of preservation. Her use of glass inherently speaks to surface and translucency, but also to the context of museum display, science, and optics. The way she generates these various displays, either magnifying views like under a microscope or with glass lantern slides. She is fusing active ways of looking for information, with looking and seeing for aesthetic pleasure.

The GlassHouse
The GlassHouse
The GlassHouse
Victorian Legacy Glass Domes

Katie Spragg

Katie Spragg’s work combines ceramic objects, installation and moving image to create momentary experiences that allude to the amazement and wonder of being outside in nature. The pieces she creates offers the viewer a space to daydream; evoking memories and arousing curiosity. Her work plays on the conflict between our sublime fantasy of nature and the often more mundane reality of our experience of it.

Her work The Glasshouse explores the divergence between the way we cultivate and curate nature, and how nature has become resilient against this, pervading beyond human ordering. She has created textural glass windows that encase and frame the porcelain plants growing inside.

As a means to understanding the spatial arrangements of my own design intervention, it is important that I refamiliarise myself with the layout design of the Winter Gardens and its various spatial components. Using existing plans I began to draw out the floor plan of the Winter Gardens.

Winter Gardens Floor Plan

Whilst visiting the Winter Gardens I was particularly fascinated and intrigued by the glass houses, drawn to their architectural details where they formulated this barrier between what lies inside and the external world, yet the glass only makes this division transparent and partially active. Where the heritage, weathered brickwork juxtaposes itself against the modern, pristine looking glass surfaces. Utilising my own photographs taken whilst visiting the site, as well as the time I was present there, I generated line drawings of different details of reference and importance to my design brief and interests.

As part of our explorative design practice, to establish, develop and generate an array of ideas in relation to our chosen spatial programme, within our study groups we were tasked with a Making Plans exercise. The aim of this exercise was to produce a series of iterations of our plan for the Winter Gardens in order to test, evaluate and refine our design hunches. By applying all my previous discoveries, site and design research as well as idea exploration to these iterations, it allowed me to create a wide range of possibilities of potential installation/exhibition interventions to compose within the Winter Gardens. It was also important that I considered how my selected design programme responded to particular attributes of place such as its history, form, materiality and environmental cues. These design interventions explore not only conceptual concerns and interests but the differential ways I could introduce my spatial programme into the site.

Once I had conducted a multiple design plan iterations exploring the various ways in which I could construct and spatially programme my exhibition/installation intervention into the Winter Gardens, all while respecting the exisiting site and its conditions, I began to contemplate the best iteration outcome for supporting hunches and positioning statement. As my main overarching conceptual concerns and interests within the site are in relation to Glasshouses being this microcosmic representation of nature, confining it to a set restraint, along with highlighting the abundance of surface textures and patterns present within these sealed atmospheres, it was important that I progressed with a design that could best reflect, represent and support my observations and interests. I felt that by combining both my design iterations three and seven it would allow me to encapsulate a harmonious combination of both these ideas, showcasing them in a unique and captivating way.

These two design iterations are both positioned and situated within the Tropical Glasshouse present at the Winter Gardens. Design iteration three consists of two miniature glass houses suspended at either end of the main Tropical Glasshouse. These smaller scaled glasshouses will either be more traditionally structured or will instead be a micro scale of the larger Winter Gardens glasshouses themselves, with the same exisiting shape. These smaller scaled glasshouses will be immersive and interactive, allowing for enough room and opening at the bottom for a human head to fit inside. Design iteration seven consists of two archives or ‘artefacts’ to be suspended from the ground situated on either side of the pond upon arrival. These components will highlight and be representative of the array of different ‘exotic’ surfaces, textures and patterns encased and on show within the Tropical Glasshouse.

As an extension on these ideas and in order to begin progressing forward clarifying my design intervention into the Winter Gardens, I started jotting down a more formal and concise plan of the various components and aspects of my design along with their significance and relevance to it.

21. 04. 21

As apart of todays lesson it is important that we start to reflect on our progress made to date by using the below assessment rubric as a guide. Working our way down reading each of the criteria within the rubric, we are to undertake a candid appraisal of our own design journey. Once we have read each of the criteria we are to place tick within the box we best believe represents where we are operating now. By utilising this reflective tool, it will enable my design processes to improve as I will be able to reflect on my work to date to therefore create a plan that allows me to develop aspects of my work in line with the criteria. After reading through the criteria I noted down a tick as an honest representation of where I believe I currently sit amongst the criteria.

Firstly reflecting on my overall design process I feel I am able to maintain a detailed record of my process not only through my visual diary but this blog platform where I am continuously uploading all my work in progress and making considerations and reflections on it. However it is important that I maintain my iterative design process by constantly exploring, experimenting and reflecting on the work that I am producing. I need to use my interests, design hunches and positioning statement as a means to inspire and motivate my project to keep moving forward. For my research I am deeply researched into a variety of designers and design precedents to help guide, influence and structure my work and working methods. By studying a range of works it allowed me to open my horizons to further developing my design intervention ideas and exploring a multitude of materiality potentials. Beginning this project I was also highly motivated to conduct extensive site research by diving into the various contextual components that make up the narrative, story and essence of the Winter Gardens themselves. For my design considerations I am in the midst of developing, synthesising and clarifying the particulars and finer details of my design intervention. Therefore it is important that I make sure I am considering the fabrication, construction and staging of my intervention as well as the impact it will have on the existing site and its atmosphere. Finally for documentation and presentation I wish to create a set of documents that best portray my design ideas, intentions and positioning statement in relation to the overall project brief. For my final presentation I want my documentation to tell the story of my interests in the site and my design intervention, where there is a clear connection between the too through my chosen aesthetic elements.

Week Seven: DRAWING

UNDER GLASS

Refurbishing of the Auckland Domain Winter Gardens

26. 04. 21

Beginning this week and as part of my reflective design development, I started collecting, gathering and generating an array of documentation of my current design intervention idea. These formal documentations will then be presented as a means to describe, share and reflect on my progress work so far and how to further iterate, improve and extend my ideas. In order to prepare for our formative review session I need to produce various design documents that allow me to show and convey my ideas and selective process work leading up to them. The different documents in which I will need to present are my positioning statement, site analysis, research and any relevant investigative or observational studies made, design precedents, site drawings and drawings showcasing my ideas.

As a means of formulating these documents I started by collating my site analysis studies that I wished to utilise and incorporate into my formative presentation. It was important that I selected appropriate and meaningful analysis documents that would show my progressive design journey, investigative hunches and interests within the site. What elements or aspects of the site was I drawn too, intrigued by and wish to explore and develop on further. Reflecting back over all my previous site analysis, research and investigative studies I selectively chose photographs, site map, sketches and observational studies to include within my documentation. My interests towards the Winter Gardens stemmed from the Tropical Glasshouse, not only my conceptual understanding and recognition of glasshouses themselves, its surface textures and patterning, along with the captivated charm that has been encapsulated within the internal space itself. Through this I chose to incorporate my site line drawings of the Tropical Glasshouse as they showcase different details of reference and importance to my design brief and interests. I also included some selective photographs that capture the beautiful qualities of nature juxtaposing against the glasshouse structure, moments that I was captivated by whilst visiting the site.

In order to bring some contextual acknowledgement to the overall positioning of the entirety of the site, its external environments, as well as the main component of the Winter Gardens I am choosing to employ my design intervention into, I decided to construct a site map portraying the layout of the Auckland Domain and where the Winter Garden is situated within it. This allowed me to start my site contextual analysis at a macro scale to then hone into its various elements and therefore my focused detail.

Auckland Domain Site Map

As from my site visits I was drawn to the various, exotic plants encapsulated within the Tropical Glasshouse, how they make space for themselves as they try to live harmoniously within this confined unit, I created an array of expressive, experimental and explorative drawings of details, patterns and surface textures I observed, discovered and was intrigued by within the glasshouse. Building a conceptual conversation between myself and what lied within the glasshouse, the diverse array of natures beauty as it try’s to live under these set restraints.

I also decided to extend my site observational studies by experimenting with photo montage to explore the natural forms and surface textures of these exotic plants further. What patterns, line work and details can I extend on and draw out from these exquisite floras on display in the Winter Gardens.

Leaf Studies from within the Tropical Glasshouse

An important part within this design process is researching into a variety of design precedents as they allow me to explore new possibilities, expand my design knowledge and understanding, as well as stimulate the potential for new creative ideas. For my formative documents I wanted to include the three main influential designers whose work I have drawn inspiration from, not only with their physical exhibited installations but their varied conceptual perceptions towards nature. The works Glasshouses by Katie Spragg, To be Looked At by Heidi Norton, and Inflection by Jamie North were the ones I incorporated together as my influential design precedents document, highlighting what aspects of their work and working methods I am drawn too and why.

One of the main and critical design aspects to include within our presentation documents is a set of Site drawings, inclusive of a Floor Plan, Section and Elevations. These drawings convey our design intervention and ideas in a way that is practical, informative and should allow for anybody to gage an automatic understanding of how our design works in relation to the existing site space. For my set of construction drawings, as my design intervention takes place within the Tropical Glasshouse I needed to construct a floor plan and various sections to show different perspectives of my design within the space. Featured below are a set of my base plan drawings of the Winter Gardens Tropical Glasshouse.

Along with this I also wanted to develop a photo montage building up some of the various exotic plants located within the glasshouse, in order to add some depth and extra contextual relevance to my drawings.

For my design intervention as I am still deciding how many of each component I wish to include within the Tropical Glasshouse and where they will be placed, I wanted to experiment with various potential arrangements and layouts of each installation component using my base floor plan.

Playing around with spatial arrangements

For each drawing plan I need various construction drawings and viewpoints of my two installation components. For my floor plan I required a birds eye view overlooking both the miniature glasshouses and artefact component, yet for my sections and elevations I required front and side profiles of each element.

Another crucial part of this my drawing set is to include construction and perspective drawings of each designed component. These drawings would visually showcase the physical design and model of how each component is expected to look and its differing parts.

Along with these drawings I also wanted to recognise their fabrication of materials, as well as consider other potential materialities and textural surfaces to be included within my design.

Materials and Textural Surfaces

The fabrication of materials for my miniature glasshouse component would include acrylic glass, aluminium, hardware, organic matter and most importantly plants. However the fabrication of materials for my artefact component will incorporate glass, aluminium, wood, textured glass, porcelain clay and hardware. In coherence with my drawings I also wanted to include a descriptive paragraph explaining both my overall spatial programme and the various elements within it.

Once I had established all my relevant site analysis, research, investigative sketches, set of construction drawings and details, I was able to construct, develop and create my presentation documents for my formative review session.

For my presentation documents it was really important that I carefully crafted and considered what elements I was showcasing on my documents and how they were arranged, what hierarchy am I creating and what is my overall visual aesthetic. Asking myself questions of does it uphold strong visual communication of my design iteration and is it clear for someone who has never seen or heard of my work before? Would they be able to understand the essence of my project based solely off its imagery? For my documents I chose to establish a variety of eight with one highlighting my positioning statement, two for my site analysis and gravitational pull (interests) of the site, one on my design precedents and four pages for my drawing set. Whilst formulating my documentation I wanted each page to be clear, well laid out, and for the information to be relevant and informative towards ones understanding of my project and design intervention. Throughout all my documents I also wanted to ensure there was a direct visual connection and harmony between them with crisp black and white line drawings/text juxtaposing against pops of colour through photo montage and collage. This practice of forming, laying out and designing these sequence of pages allowed me to begin to build on and create my own design narrative and visual storytelling aesthetic that best emulates my design.

Week Eight: REVIEW

UNDER GLASS

Refurbishing of the Auckland Domain Winter Gardens

03. 05. 21

Instead for this weeks studio lessons we all had a formative review presenting our progress work to date, where both the tutors and students collectively gave feedback towards each others work. In groups we each went around presenting the various documents showcasing our design concept and ideas. This review session was incredibly beneficial as it not only allowed me to gain insightful feedback and considerations into my own project, but also gave all of us the opportunity to visually see and hear about each others work too. Getting to view everyones work was extremely interesting as there was such a variation in how we each approached the brief and what our gravitational pull and interests in the Winter Gardens are. You could also begin to establish connections between different projects, seeing where ideas, concepts and the approach to spatial programming started to overlap and fuse together. As featured below are the array of documentation I generated for this formative review session, in order to try portray my design ideas in an effective and visually engaging way.

Shown below is the positioning layout and arrangement of each document pinned up onto the wall. Down the left side contains my site analysis, interests and project statement, whereas the right side shows my design intervention through a set of drawings.

Formative Presentation Pin Up

From my formative review session I gained such valuable insights that I wish to recognise, utilise, develop and expand on within my design project. Overall my visual presentation was highly engaging, however it contained too many elements where instead I need to refine my documents by focusing on and highlighting the specific components that I deem most relevant and significant to my design ideas. I learn’t that by putting ‘almost everything’ onto my presentation documentation, it meant my direct design idea lost its driving factors, the vision and intention of my ideas weren’t as clear and concise making it difficult for someone to interpret and fully understand. The feedback also opened my horizons for how I could better intervene into the exisiting Winter Gardens space. By reconsidering and simplifying my design intervention idea it will allow me to better contemplate and recognise what aspects of my progressive design journey so far are most interesting, intriguing and spark excitement for me. What aspects of the site am I most interested in and captured my attention, and how can I emulate or enhance this within my redesign of the Tropical Glasshouse in an exciting yet practical way that adds meaning or a greater purpose to the space.

Following along from our feedback review sessions, we each received some written formative feedback to help guide us towards progressing our design projects further. For my feedback it was an iteration of what we discussed during my presentation – where I need to selectively signal and emphasis one or more images to showcase my design. I also need to consider what exists already and what doesn’t, how can I enhance the space through my design? What does the site need to improve, amplify or heighten ones experience in the Tropical House, all whilst ensuring my design respects the beautifully rich heritage of the site. What kind of atmospherics am I wanting to evoke within the Winter Gardens? What aspects of the site captivated me to explore, develop or expand further, utilising all my visual references drawn from textures, surfaces and the exotic plant forms.

In order to make the most of the really helpful feedback I gained from my session, I started noting down and reflecting on all the comments made and how I could reconstruct and redefine my intervention idea. By utilising all the potential new design opportunities and ideas discussed within my review it allowed me to explore different ways of intervening into the site, ways that would be much more relevant, beneficial and practical as an exhibition redesign. I decided to create a mind map as it is an effective way to write down and expand on my ideas and build connections between them.

Redefining my Design Intervention Ideas

From this brainstorm containing both comments and discussions made from within my review session as well as an extension of my own interpretations and considerations of these ideas, I began drawing out and highlighting which ideas I felt would best activate and reflect my interests, discoveries and connections within the Winter Gardens. What kind of design intervention would support my conceptual ideas towards the site best? How can I intervene into the existing site in a way that would be purposeful, meaningful, to enhance and activate what is already present? Previously my intervention idea supported my conceptual concerns relevant to the site, however it served no real purpose and didn’t accentuate what was already being exhibited, the beautiful exotic plants. By iterating and refining my current idea it will enable me to develop a new design intervention into the Tropical House that showcases the plants in a new and engaging way whilst also connecting to my initial driving concepts.

As a means to exploring this new design intervention approach I started noting down the key driving factors of my main conceptual brief, along with an array of explorative sketches experimenting with line, shape, pattern and textures drawn from visual references I made when visiting the Winter Gardens.

Developing new Design Intervention Concepts

By drawing out these sketches it allowed me to start to invision and capture my ideas, where I can begin to manipulate line to create forms for constructing this built environment, a space for people to sit, observe and appreciate the abundance of exotic plants surrounding them. From generating both my mind map and explorative sketches visually referencing to aspects of the site that I engaged with most and found great interest in, it enabled me to build up new potential idea developments for not only the direction of my design intervention into the site but also my overall concept project brief.

As well as this I also wanted to utilise the feedback gained from my formative review session to help clarify, refine and synthesise my positioning statement on the site by creating more iterations. Whilst presenting my work I felt my concept drivers for my design intervention were not refined and synthesised, leading to my ideas becoming slightly disjointed making it difficult for someone to fully grasp my project. This is incredibly important as my statement needs to clearly showcase my developed design brief, intervention and the concepts motivating my entire project to allow it to be portrayed in the best, most effective way possible. I started drawing out the main conceptual elements already expressed within my statement, as well as writing down what aspects of my new design intervention need to be explicate. I also considered what components of my most recent iteration statement are relevant towards my new design ideas, conceptual concerns and influential site drivers. By dissecting and analysing my written statement, it allowed me to better reflect on what it is my statement is expressing and how it should be arranged in order to best communicate my project brief.