National Earthquake Museum of New Zealand

We think of the ground as permanent. A solid surface that we can dig, reclaim, and shape as our needs require. But as the earthquakes that have shaped New Zealand’s land and history have shown us, the ground is not a constant - it shifts, it moves, and it demands our respect.

The National Earthquake Museum of New Zealand uses a design language that informs guests about our built relationship with the ground. Four main masses make up the building, each a caricature of our built form (simple white boxes, built to knife-edge tolerances and shaped by its neighbours) and each having a different relationship to the ground. The concrete surrounding the building elegantly flows to form the structure that supports these forms, which can be read in two ways - that we should build to accommodate previous ground movement, and that in the future, the ground may move again. The concrete’s visual connection from ground to column to beam informs guests that a building does not simply sit on top of the land, but through its foundations and structure it becomes permanently linked with the ground, and all associated movements.

ARCI 312 - Architectural Design Integration.