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Wharf Dwellers

Part 2 Project 2015
Tom Dobinson
Victoria University of Wellington Wellington | New Zealand
Lyttelton is a port town connected to the world via the sea. In recent years, progressive expansion of privatised docks has severed the physical connection between the township and its harbour. This design-led-research evolved to propose reconciliation in the founding relationship of a port town and its waters edge, and ultimately sought to express unique characteristics of place through architectural form.

The research developed through three experiments: an installation, a house, and a public wharf. Each of the projects increased in scale and complexity to inform one another; the sensorial experience of an art installation being ultimately carried through to an urban scale.

Woven into the research is an exploration of local resident and distinguished New Zealand painter, Bill Hammond. His paintings address place identity in a non-traditional sense, providing a method for characterising Lyttelton’s ephemeral characteristics. This investigation distils the strangeness from Hammond’s paintings, populating Lyttelton with a series of bird-like structures linked by a new wharf high above the working docks. The wistful paintings of a local maverick inspired an architectural landscape that acts to reconnect the occupants of the town with their harbour – resulting in architecture that could only have developed at such specific coordinates.

Tom Dobinson


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