Both the theatre and urban space are places of representation, assemblage, and exchange between actors and spectators, between the drama and the stage set. Finding their roots in collective experience of everyday life, they are ordering experiences of that chaos.”
Christine Boyer: The City of Collective Memory
Outsider (noun)- a person deemed not belong to a particular community, masked off from society and forced to put on a façade. A foreigner, an alien, a stranger.
Yet what lies beyond the architectural façade, which forms a mask similar to the ones we wear daily to fit into society?
Sitting silently on Auckland’s Lorne Street for almost 100 years, the decaying St James Theatre presents an ambiguous urban character that has seen better days, yet theatre, where we share our stories, is a place where we can witness our identity as a diverse community truly blossom. Breaking through the constructed homogeneity of NZ society, which is yet to reflect its cultural diversity in the built environment, this project establishes a place to address cultural amnesia by creating a new sense of ‘home’ within a building that synergises with the community.
The design, which intervenes with the theatre and its neighbouring site (once a movie theatre) intends to establish a fluctuating collective memory for diverse communities by creating an experiential sequence of spaces and emotions that represent the ups and downs of outsiders who experience being lost and found as they cross vertical and horizontal thresholds. This is achieved by combining existing and new structures with sensations created by natural light, materiality, textures, and patterns, as well as a play on indoor and outdoor thresholds. Users are guided on a journey across time zones: achieved through a tripartite structure
“Past” (returning Waihorotiu stream) A Foyer
“Present” (uncovering and revealing the land)
and “Divine” (opening to the sky).