Marina De Sousa


Bachelor of Design Interior Design Public Space Public Surface Performance Community

The exploration of colour, light and human experience within Fort Lane.

Enlightening is a spatial design project which seeks to change the atmosphere in Fort Lane from one which is currently dark and foreboding to a space which is bright, visually stimulating and consequently more inviting. The introduction of colour, light, and organic shapes aims to soften the urban context and to open a welcoming space for inner city communities. Ultimately, the aim is to create an aspirational space which might inspire creativity and provide a place for communities to enjoy exhibitions, artistic performances, and participate in cultural events and programs.

Located in the heart of the city, Fort Lane is a thoroughfare amongst two arterial routes, Queen and Customs Streets, and  provides a link to the busy Britomart Station. Central Auckland has developed significantly over the years, with a primary focus on retail and commercial activity. Business in the streets surrounding Fort Lane has increased significantly over time and subsequently the previous cultural programme of the site, including the Roxy and Everybody’s movie theatres, has been eclipsed.

My proposed design aims to transform the site, by working into the shadowy recess behind the Imperial Hotel building on Fort Lane and on top of it’s rooftop, and transforming it into a colourful and welcoming event-space for local communities. The sociologist Eric Klinenberg in his book Palaces for the People, promotes the belief that wherever we gather informally, strike up a conversation  and get to know one another, relationships blossom and communities emerge (Klinenberg, 2018). Based on this theory, the project embraced the idea of designing a space where people would play an essential part in its success. Tools such as movable furniture and dividers were added at each level, allowing the community to become a part of the design process by participating in its creation.

Design inspiration was taken from nature to provide a protective canopy between the two very high walls which enclose the narrow space in Fort Lane. The supporting structure is made from pine and based in the organic form of a tree. A series of blades rise up and connect to form a decorative pattern on the ceiling which casts different shadows into the space as the sunlight changes direction. The stained-glass serves to uplift the mood creating movement and playfulness to contrast with the gloomy atmosphere that currently exists in Fort Lane. In the evening, the use of LED technology would allow moving images to be projected from the glass, combining creative interest with the functionality of projecting light into the street.

The design crawls organically up the side of the building and over the existing edifice to form the top level. Here there would be a Café with movable furniture allowing flexibility within the space for different social gatherings. A separate designated area would be available for hire, the profits from which could be turned into training programs for students wishing to gain work experience.

The different levels of the building would be freely available for bookings to those who desire to showcase their work or exhibition in the performing arts. One of the most important aspects of this design is that it would ideally connect to the past by association with the theatres which made culture accessible to all regardless of social status.