Human form, architectural tools & unorthodox spaces

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Henderson, Nadine
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Architecture (Professional)
Unitec Institute of Technology
Francis, Kerry
Melchiors, Lucia
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Unitec Institute of Technology
Unitec Building B048
design processes
human form
human factors
Auckland (N.Z.)
architecture and space
New Zealand
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Henderson, N. (2020). Human form, architectural tools & unorthodox spaces. (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture (Professional)). Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand.
RESEARCH QUESTION: “How do representations of the human figure used as design tools in architecture affect the form of architecture and, hence, the behaviours that form produces?” ABSTRACT: This project considers how representations of the human figure are used as design tools, and how these design tools affect our architecture. Artists, architects, and theorists have identified the physical characteristics of the human body and utilised them as tools throughout history. Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man represents the natural order of the body through a detailed drawing. Such illustrations are essential in our architectural environment. They represent fundamental characteristics that can be applied to our built environment and teach us about the functional movement of the body in the spaces we design. This project identifies the constraints arising from the use of such a functionalist approach. It then explores the opportunities available to a designer who uses an expanded repertoire of tools to represent the body. Architecture affects the behaviours of its occupants, and those behaviours affect their mental and physical wellbeing. The representations of the human form seen in Neufert’s Architects’ Data and Le Corbusier’s Le Modulor prioritise functional efficiency and aim to produce a rational architecture that caters to the user and their immediate needs. As a result, interactions with such a rational form becomes habitual and mundane. The project further explores design tools generated through analysing the movement of dancers in Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadic Ballet, a valuable theoretical performance that embodies the principles of Bauhaus. The design process has produced an architecture that encourages its users to break with habitual behaviours and enjoy a more enriched experience. The recent shift of the Architecture programme from Building 001 to the smaller Building 048 has left students and teaching staff with limited space for critiques, meetings and study. The grassy slope in front of B048 would be an ideal location for a new multi-use space that could support all these activities while demonstrating a method that produces an enriched architecture.
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