If we as architects are to accept that physical architecture can carry resonances with meanings beyond that of their objective existence, then we also must accept that it is the act of constructing which manifests these intangible and conceptual meanings, into the built environment. If architecture is to suggest anything beyond its own reality, it must do so using its own construction as a point of departure. In this regard, the architectural detail construes.
This statement sets up the question which underpins my thesis research – What is the role of the detail in the construing of meaning in the built environment. This thesis examines the detail beyond its role to construct and for its ability to facilitate the fusion of abstracted meanings with standard construction materials and practices. It attempts to rectify the schism between architecture as concept and architecture as building.
My research vehicle takes the form of a Tectonic Re-Encoding of the Brutalist Student Union typology at the University of Auckland. My project is a serious of interventions in and around the SU building that in developing a new space for students simultaneously looks to rediscover and reimbue the theoretical underpinnings of a Brutalist Student Union Typology back into the University Campus. My reasons for doing so are simple – In a time of increasing isolation and disenchantment among students, there is a need for a sense of place and union among both students and staff at this university.
Steel, Concrete, Timber, this is how the Student Union objectively exits. To reflect, to challenge, to find one’s place and offer respite is subjectively how the Student Union is experienced. It is the role of the detail as a construer and signification device through which these subjective meanings manifest themselves in the built environment.