Jessica Lim

MArch I

Recovering Wā Kāinga

Advised by Lisa Haber-Thomson

wā kāinga (noun): distant home, true home, home, home base.

Suspending the myth of architectural autonomy, this thesis draws from Māori mythology as embedded within the landscapes of New Zealand, to prompt an architectural approach that recovers ancestral telluric layers, not to analyze them, but rather to renew dormant kinships of site, memory, and affection. Engaging the work of one’s imagination, the quest of embodied, ancient knowledge proceeds from the deep wells of memory to the “bodying forth”1 of regenerated relations between peoples and lands.

Whakapapa, the recitation of genealogical lists in Māori tradition, demonstrates this: a cosmology built on allegories of procreation that relate all things eternally as kin. Considering this spatiotemporal consciousness, this project proposes a path and a series of 12 pavilions corresponding to 12 lunar months, within a model for architectural engagement grounded in recursive and reciprocal relationships.

Na te kune te pupuke
Na te pupuke te hihiri
Na te hihiri te mahara
Na te mahara te hinengaro
Na te hinengaro te manako
Ka hua te wananga
Ka noho i a rikoriko
Ka puta ki waho ko te po . . .
Na te kore i ai
Te kore te whiwhia
From the source of growth the rising
From rising the thought
From rising thought the memory
From memory the mind-heart
From the mind-heart, desire
Knowledge becomes conscious
It dwells in dim light
And Pō (darkness) emerges . . .
From nothingness came the first cause
Unpossessed nothingness

1 Michael Jackson, Lifeworlds: Essays in Existential Anthropology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013), 71.

Wā Kāinga, MArch I, A photograph of unknown objects on a table.