Performative conservation : an exploration of the potentials of architecture for ecological conservation.
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Citation:Penno, S. (2014) Performative conservation : an exploration of the potentials of architecture for ecological conservation. An unpublished explanatory document submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree for Master of Architecture (Professional) at Unitec Institute of Technology.
Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/2539
The first human stepped onto New Zealand’s shores around 1,000 years ago. Since then almost half of the once rich and unique endemic fauna is now extinct. With much of the remaining biota endangered the importance of ecological conservation has gained increasing recognition, particularly over the last 30 years. The realities of ecological conservation, however, are often at odds with the ideals. Misguided intent combined with a lack of resources and infrastructure often hinder good outcomes. Further complication lies within the prioritisation of the limited resources. What should be protected and at what price? This research project explores how architecture can provide a remedy for some of the problems facing ecological conservation. The project’s programmatic aim is to facilitate eco-tourist access, with minimal impact, into fragile ecological habitats on the Otago Peninsula. The Peninsula is considered to be the wildlife “capital” of New Zealand. As a result, ecotourism is a major industry for the neighbouring City of Dunedin. The ecological biodiversity of the Peninsula is fundamental to the city’s identity. Also fundamental to Dunedin’s identity is its built heritage. These identities are faced with challenges. Eco-tourists eager to view the biodiversity can, unintentionally, damage the peninsula’s fragile ecologies. The built heritage is also faced with issues relating to questions of value and conservation, particularly relating to new seismic strengthening requirements. The proposed architectural interventions will address these issues. Fundamental to this project is an exploration and analysis of the greater site through David Leatherbarrow’s “extended horizon” analysis. This allows a broader understanding of the problems and potentials that exist across the site. The interventions are created through the establishment of spatial management using the concepts of threshold, boundary and barrier. The interventions also investigate how additional “performances” can be incorporated to create a more lively and involving environment. In so doing it is hoped that the architecture will provide a better-resourced infrastructure for the centralised and localised requirements of ecological conservation. The scope of this project is to design facilities and structures for ecological conservation which also manages and educates tourists on ecological conservation. The architectural interventions may include viewing structures, viewing platforms, viewing hides, and conservation and visitor centres. The emphasis of the project is on how these structures enable and promote ecological conservation while, where possible, also promoting the built heritage of the associated area. Two project sites: Centralised eco-hub at Fryatt Street, Dunedin and localised viewing platforms, viewing holds, fencing at Sandfly Bay to observe the yellow-eyed penguin