Architect-designed structures are frequently recognised as, and acknowledged for symbolising or speaking to a culture, or some theme or aspect of a culture within which they are located. In addition to expressing aesthetic appeal, architecture can both learn from and embody a culture and the wider society, not only by its presence but in dynamic and ongoing ways which add value to that culture and enhance society in a dignified and culturally appropriate way.
Two case studies are analysed in this thesis. First, Te Papa Tongarewa in New Zealand’s capital Wellington, demonstrates the richness of meaningful cultural collaboration, and its potential to enhance the architectural outcome without compromising cultural integrity. Second, the Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre in Noumea, New Caledonia’s capital, represents a significant and enduring monument to Tjibaou’s vision, that epitomises deep and enduring inter-cultural struggle and the resilience of the human spirit.
In both these projects of national significance, the architect’s professional integrity is evident and sensitively revealed within this thesis. Similar compelling themes permeate the design background and the ultimate completion of two exceedingly unique structures. Importantly, the architect is obliged to understand the culture in which the architectural brief is set.
A key focus of the two case studies analysed in this thesis is the consideration of the concept of loss of cultural identity. This thesis critically analyses the contribution that architecture can make to reconcile this loss. The architects’ approaches to researching the design briefs of these two iconic buildings provides a useful framework that can be applied to fulfilling the key elements of any design brief within any context.