Beneath the surface

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Laubscher, Torben
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Master of Architecture (Professional)
Unitec Institute of Technology
Murphy, Chris
Patel, Yusef
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Rotorua, New Zealand
New Zealand
waterfront development
Hinemoa Pier (proposed development), (Rotorua, New Zealand)
Tutanekai Sqaure (proposed development), (Rotorua, New Zealand)
wood in architecture
Māori architecture
tukutuku panels
Māori carving
CAD/CAM (computer aided design/computer aided manufacture)
timber technology
Laubscher, T. (2019). Beneath the surface (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture (Professional)).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 timber technologies, complemented by digital design processes be exploited to enhance architectural design and express contextual relationships? ABSTRACT: The rise of digital technologies has created a profound effect on the built environment, providing a powerful extension to prefabricated construction. For centuries the architect was responsible for both design and expertise in various construction techniques while also coordinating the construction process. This relationship to material, technique and process has become increasingly lost throughout architectural discourse; digital technologies now offer a direct link between the design and construction, expanding the role of the modern-day architect. Digital technologies have been criticised for generating uncontrolled and meaningless architecture; this project aims to formulate a case for the opposite projection. The rise of digital culture has provided a unique platform for cultural and contextual expression. To support this argument, the study herewith draws upon architectural theory regarding the use of digital technologies and ornamental expression, arguing for its presence. This project investigates the current methods of digital fabrication and associated software technology used in architecture through a contextual lens. This project explores how Computer- aided design (CAD) and Computer-aided machining (CAM) technologies can be exploited to enhance architecture and cultural identity in the digital age. This proposed design project is based in Rotorua. This region embodies a unique connection to wood through its people and traditional crafts. The research around digital technologies has been centred around the use of engineered timber products, producing building components that complement the wood first policy adopted by Rotorua. A proposed waterfront development concept designed by Wraights and Associates has provided the design framework and parameters for this project. This waterfront development has highlighted the need to replace an existing concert hall/ event space that has been demolished. This site provides unique opportunities to investigate the exploitation of digital technologies and their potential to enhance cultural expression.
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