Daylight, death, & ritual Prometheus : the use of light and shadow as a fundamental building material and its evocations on the built environment

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Twiss, Wesley
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Master of Architecture (Professional)
Unitec Institute of Technology
Rennie, Julian
Hall, Min
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Albert Park (Auckland, N.Z.)
Albert Park air-raid shelters (Auckland, N.Z.)
underground tunnels
crematorium architecture
death and dying
architecture and light
Auckland (N.Z.)
New Zealand
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Twiss, W. (2019). Daylight, death, & ritual Prometheus : the use of light and shadow as a fundamental building material and its evocations on the built environment. (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture (Professional)). Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved from
RESEARCH QUESTION: How can daylight strategies be implemented into design driven by phenomenology to explore the development of an atmospheric architecture? ABSTRACT: Death is the singular constant to life and is the undercurrent to society. For most of human history the initiation of cities has been didactically linked to the dead, the grave, and memorial. The built form represents an endurance which lasts beyond an individual. Phenomenology views the direct experience as the primary driver of understanding. This relies strongly on an engagement with our senses; but is equally relevant to more abstract engagements with our memory, emotions, and perceptions. Architecturally this manifests by understanding dwelling and the sense of place a piece of architecture provides. Dwelling is usually explored through ‘how’ people dwell. However, through researching the grief process and the journey one experiences emotionally when grieving it becomes necessary to assess ‘why’ we dwell? The grief journey is a shifting between the dwelling stages and the wandering which occurs between them. These wandering stages become a ‘pilgrimage of grief ’, and are informed and facilitated through the air raid shelters in repose beneath the proposed park site within the city. Here, deep within the earth, light becomes poignant and is only present where permitted. The association of light and death has long been held – whether viewed as opposites or synonymous they are always juxtaposed. This research project aims to define the permitted daylight into evocative understandings of grief through architecture based on exploring the participants, their rituals, and the context in which the design will be used. Light from fire distinguished man from ape; the amalgamation of light and death is seen within the ritual of cremation. An inner-city crematorium informed and linked to the pilgrimage of grief, provides a chthonic conclusion to the investigation. The combination of earth, light/fire, and death results in an opportunity – Promethean in nature, and rich with ritual narrative. The crematorium and pilgrimage of grief are constructed around the narrative of death. The act of wandering through the tunnels provides opportunity to learn; and the grief provides a memory to reflect; and the spaces allow dwelling to occur.
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