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Sex(uality) and the City: Counteracting the Cock-ups of Auckland’s Main Strip

Part 2 Dissertation 2014
Raphaela Rose
University of Auckland Auckland | New Zealand
The city of Auckland, Aotearoa otherwise known as Tamaki Makaurau- or translated "Tamaki of a thousand lovers"- takes pride in excess with volcanoes, temperamental weather and a plethora of sailboats. Traditionally renowned for an array of outdoor pursuits recently Auckland’s tourism has taken a new direction, perhaps implied by its translated name. As a result of the Prostitution Reform Act 2003 plans have been drawn for a ‘Super Brothel’ in the heart of the city. A new sexual territory defined by patriarchal modes of urbanism has emerged.

According to Beatriz Colomina notions of sexuality have been inscribed in the spatial formulation of cities since the development of urbanism and the political nature of space is founded in concepts of sexuality. Space however can be accountable in the erasure of sexual identity, a consequence of representational systems. This dissertation employs the scholarship of Colomina, sited at the scale of Auckland city.

Utilising a range of disciplines the critique, written, drawn and modelled, employs research as a method of design, addressing the ways in which the unprecedented commercial transformation of Auckland’s civic centre has enabled sexuality to become an apparatus of biopolitical control. Ascertaining the complexity of this sexualised urban condition, a method of practice is proposed that involves linguistic analysis, media enquiries and spatial mapping.

This political context provokes an ironic proposal - an Archipelago of Ladies, a speculative scheme where the current dogma of space is renegotiated to offer a productive urban strategy. Architecture is employed mischievously as a satirical tool, confronting spatial misogyny, a pleasure-park of thirteen buildings, premised on local sex scandals. The rollicking attractions are conceived as fables. However, beneath the sugar coating, a subversive message filters through, undermining societal structures, enabling sexuality to become a regulatory ideal.

This dissertation reflects on a global, politically promiscuous context. As a proposition it suggests the possibilities of employing architecture as an instrument of social and political in(ter)vention. While at first glance absurd the visualised irony questions the future of architectural scholarship provoking a necessary urban debate: Is this the city that the people of Auckland desire to be theirs?

Raphaela Rose

Dr. Mike Austin
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