Spatial Design Studio III

@lbretnallstudio / lbretnallstudio.tumblr.com

Documentation of my Spatial Design Studio project. Working towards a design intervention at Fort Lane, Auckland.

“Reflection” // Week 14

This semester has had its ups and downs, but I am very pleased with the outcome. I thoroughly enjoyed this project and thought the brief allowed myself to really dive into interesting theories and conceptual thinking. I am proud of the outcome, considering the challenges posed on us that came from covid. Being isolated from studio took a big toll on my design development and felt I was at a standstill for a large portion of this project. But these things are natural and is something all designers will face in their experiences.

I have included a link to my final presentation for ‘A Liminal Walk’, as well as my exegesis which is a supporting document for this studio project. The exegesis includes a deeper analysis and reflection on my methods and theoretical thinking. ‘A Liminal Walk’ (Final Presentation):

“Detail Model” // Week 13

Detail model of aluminium frame and acrylic sheets. These sheets are from my surface design exploration, used to demonstrate the connection and show the condition of blurring and layering. A variety of techniques including burning, molding, glossing, and application of textures were used on the acrylic.


“Design Visualization” // Week 12+13

My perspectives/storyboard are used to show the spatial journey and overall experience of being in this space. The framing of the scenes was important to show the liminal phases, as well as showing the connection with the surrounding site through material, atmosphere, and lighting.

“Design Development” // Week 11+12

In response to the co-design workshop feedback, I focused mainly on altering the spatial programming of the panels. The importance of this change was about providing an installation that captures peoples attention and encourages them to enter and explore the space.


Instead of a linear fashion, the panels are now skewed in various directions allowing pedestrian traffic to flow between other key access points. These are Imperial Lane, Snickel Lane, and other doorway entrances. This change makes the installation even more a transitional space than it was previously. The skewing of panels also draws more attention to your body’s movement and dialogue with the space, allowing a stronger awareness of self in space.

The framing structure is made from aluminum and the panels from acrylic sheets. Aluminum is a great choice as it is lighter than most steels but has similar strength. It also weathers the outdoors very well and is resistant to corrosion. 


I chose to use acrylic over glass as acrylic allowed greater exploration of surface design and is a more practical material to use for this installation. Glass panels and fragmented panels would have been extremely heavy and more difficult to connect to the aluminum frame. An acrylic piece can be easily connected to the frame using a clear strong adhesive.

“Co-Design Reflection” // Week 11

During my co-design workshop, I worked with Anna Manson who is an interior designer from Jasmax. She had previously studied Spatial Design so it was a wonderful experience to workshop with her and hear about her past experiences. 

--  The main aspects we discussed and needed work were:      

     - Spatial programming/mapping of the structure and the surrounding space      - How people negotiate through the spatial experience      - How are people drawn into the space -- 

By following the feedback, I referred back to my earlier exploration on the relationship between cinematics and urban landscapes. I focused more on the the framing of the space in a way a director would set his scene. I needed to develop the panel structure further so it would entice people to move within the space and explore its various phases. 

Exploration of spatial programming through a cinematic lens.

The view from outside the installation needs to be considered. Working with the curvature nature of Fort Lane and the positioning of panels. How are people drawn into your space? What are the perspectives from the outside? 

“Co-Design Workshop” // Week 10

This week we have industry designers ranging from interiors, architecture, and lighting coming into studio to workshop our current designs. This is a great opportunity not just to develop our projects with proven designers, but also gain insight into industry practice and the journey to get there after university. 


My physical design has developed from an enclosed tunnel like structure to a more emancipated space but with a clear journey pattern (following from iteration #2. The occupants will still transition directly through the installation, as they would while walking through Fort Lane currently. The three liminal phases will now be introduced into sections of the journey, rather than just focusing on the transitional space.


I felt this change was necessary as the linear pattern and openness of straight panels complimented the physical nature of Fort Lane. Whereas the enclosed tunnel would have felt unnatural and out of place.

“Updated Abstract” // Week 9

‘A Liminal Walk’

(noun) Liminal: derived from the Latin word ‘limen’, meaning threshold -


A place of transition, ambiguity, and transformation.


Liminal space is a concept explored through anthropological studies, notably by Arnold Van Gennep. When an individual goes through an important transition during their lifetime such as marriage or a baptism, the individual experiences liminal space. They have separated from their previous social identity and transitioned through a ritual leading them to incorporate back into society with a new identity.

‘A Liminal Walk’ explores the ritual phases of separation, transition, and incorporation into the spatial context of Fort Lane.

Fort Lane was once known as the entertainment centre of Auckland with the opening of Queens and Everybody’s picture theatres in the 1910’s. In 2020, it is now used as a transitional space for CBD workers to get from A to B.

The disconnect between people and the environment of Fort Lane provides an opportunity to create an interrelationship between people and space, as well as rekindle the spark of entertainment and play that Fort Lane was once so famous for.  

Physical liminal space creates dis-orientation and ambiguity through the application of layering, blurring, and dissolution. During these moments, occupants gain the strongest understanding and awareness of themselves in the space they inhabit.

‘A Liminal Walk’ separates occupants from the normal spatial structure of Fort Lane and into a transitional space that sheds a new perspective towards their surrounding environment. A moment of awareness of self in space.

“Design Development” // Week 9

Following from the initial design iteration, I have made adjustments according to the application of elements that create liminal space. By mapping out the key design attributes of each phase, this allows the physical design to successfully create an environment for liminal phases to occur.

Main three spatial conditions / states:

Layering: State of overlapping elements laid on top of another or spread over a surface. Blurring: State of indistinctness, obscurity in vision. Dissolution: State of broken-up assemblies, dispersal of components or organization.  These key attributes of liminality will be interpreted into features of the physical design intervention.

Iteration #1

Layering is explored through the fragmentation and spread of triangular pieces across a curved frame. This frame has 2 layers creating more dis-orientation when walking through. Curved framing creates a tunnel like scenario, engaging occupants to feel more surrounded in the ‘liminal’ transitional phase.

Blurring is explored through the surface material and splitting of the surrounding environment through the triangular pieces. Surface material exploration from Week 4 will be interpreted through these pieces e.g acrylic sheets with varying transparency, opaqueness, roughness etc. Dissolution is explored through the scattered steel tiles along the surface of the transitional phase. The sound produced from these tiles when stepped on allows occupants to notice an important change to their surroundings. This indicates the separation from the previous spatial state, and the incorporation into the other.

Panel design exploration 

Iteration #2

This design iteration focuses on the structural shape of the liminal space. I believe the straight linear panels complement the space of Fort Lane more than an enclosed tunnel structure. The long tall panels help the structure blend into Fort Lane’s spatial sequence, making the experience of awareness of self in space more challenging and impactful. This iteration still maintains the interpretation of the spatial conditions / states: Layering, blurring, and dissolution.

“Project Scope” // Week 8

Response to brief:

Propose a design intervention or temporary event which further develops Fort Lane precinct as a public place.

Problem / Observation:

Fort Lane is primarily used as a short-cut transitional space, resulting in a disconnection between people and their surrounding environment.

Design response to problem:

Create an environment/micro site that allows occupants to gain awareness of self in space. This is focusing on the relationship between people and their surrounding environment, not personal self-awareness or awareness of the space itself.

Why the chosen design approach:

I believe this awareness is critical in recognizing the importance and history Fort Lane holds to the people and the city. Fort Lane was once known as the entertainment centre of Auckland and provided a strong connection between people and space. Although its current usage has shied away from its impactful past, the opportunity to bring a sense of entertainment back into the space is still there.

“Spatial design is always about the interrelationship between people and the environment.”

How will I achieve this:

I intend to use liminal space to allow occupants to gain awareness of self in space. This liminal space will consist of three phases: separation, transition, and incorporation. Spatial conditions of the transitional phase include uncertainty and dis-orientation. The brain doesn’t like uncertainty. It wants to be either here or there, but never in between. The outcome of uncertainty is a heightened awareness of the liminal space you are in, resulting in a stronger awareness of self in space.

“Liminality is a journey of different moments which can influence a person to discover something new about themselves and the world around them”.

Design application:

I intend to explore the spatial conditions attached to liminal space as a physical attribute in my design intervention. These attributes help form a design framework that directs how they are activated in the physical structure/environment.

Interpreted through physical models, then into physical forms.

“Storyboard” // Week 7

I wanted to try and portray a narrative through my storyboard sketches, rather than a realistic representation of my design intervention. Although it may include realistic moments, I have tried to incorporate a number of design techniques and approaches I have discovered throughout the first half of this project. -- This storyboard shows form and programme of my liminal space in a stripped back and fragmented Fort Lane, indicating the presence of separation, transition, and incorporation. Feeling of disorientation, ambiguity, but awareness of self in space.


“Model” // Week 7

A created a first iteration model of my design intervention to better understand how the structural form works. Because this is only an iteration, I have left out the material details of the structure, focusing purely on how the programming of the space will operate within and outside of the structure. In particular, how much vision is skewed? What fragmented spots can be seen through the gaps or material?



The surface exploration done in week 4 has impacted my thoughts and conceptual connection to the spatial conditions of liminal space. These surfaces could be used for fragmented pieces, in an array of different textures,  transparency and translucency.

“Sketch Design” // Week 6

I have started to use the source material from previous weeks to bring physical form to my design idea. I am currently viewing the liminal space to be an obvious change in state, indicated by the use of material, surface, and sound. When people enter the transitional phase, I want them to feel or observe a difference in spatial and emotional qualities. This will define the separation and incorporation phase more.


“Project Outline” // Week 6

Updated Abstract / Project Outline:

With the opening of Queens and Everybody’s picture theatres in the 1910’s, Fort Lane was once known as the entertainment centre of Auckland. After a long line of name changes, ownership transfers and fire, these heritage sites were left untouched. Fort Lane is now used as a transitional space for CBD workers going from A to B. Current council development hopes to transform Fort Lane into a people focused shared space including design features and artworks. There is an opportunity here to connect people to their surroundings through playful entertainment, hopefully shedding light towards Fort Lane’s history. Swedish artist David Svenssen has shown with his red neon light installation how easily entertainment can be reintroduced and how effective it becomes in a wearisome space.

How can liminal space create an environment of awareness of self in space within Fort Lane?

My proposed design intervention will exist as an interactive art installation in which the users occupy and move through the space. This installation will focus on the surface and framing exploration that I have discovered during iterative concept workshops. From these discoveries, this installation will be structured in the form of a fragmented tunnel, acting as a spatial transition from one state to another.

“Site + User Analysis” // Week 5

Understanding the demographic of people and activities/rituals within Fort Lane is very important for my design approach. I am working with a form of art that holds a particular meaning and objective to evoke a certain feeling/emotion. Therefore, understanding the inhabitants of my space is crucial to offer a design that can accommodate all people. When I say all people, I specifically mean people of all competence levels, people of all societal status levels, and people of all physical and cognitive capabilities.

This approach would mean an adept art lover is able to filter out the design information through the experience, because they have the cultural competence to understand the deeper meaning. On the contrary, how will a novice average citizen experience the design if they lack the cultural competence to understand? 


In Chapter 11 in the text Exhibiting cultures, Elaine Heumann Gurian critically analyses a museums relationship to its audience. Gurian states that “if the audience feels alienated, un-worthy, or out of place, it is becuase we want them to feel that way” (Gurian, 1991). In the context of my project, liminal space is somewhat inherently an ‘out of place’ environment. The anthropological understanding is that you are in an in-between state with no grounding, separated from a previous state. This may sound scary to the average person, but it doesn’t need to be a state of uncertainty and fear. It can also be a state of awareness and enlightenment. 

Gurian believes “that should we wish all visitors to learn and understand, we must construct a wide palette of exhibition opportunities that utilizes all the senses” (Gurian, 1991). This approach is effective as novice learners often have a stronger emotional response towards a variety of tangible elements that can be seen, heard, touched, or even fantasized about. Therefore, providing sources of tangible elements through surface, sound or sight, will enable the novice audience to feel more welcomed the environment I am creating.


Therefore, by introducing design elements that interact with peoples senses, novice learners will be able to experience my design installation without feeling un-worthy or out of place. This can be done while still maintaining my expression of intention, which is for people to become more aware of themselves in space, reflecting towards the pre-existing entertainment history of Fort Lane, while enjoying the new introduction of art entertainment (my design intervention).


Karp, I. Lavine, S. (1991). Exhibiting cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display. Smithsonian Books

“Concept Map” // Week 5

At this stage of the design process, it is important to step back and reflect the discoveries and information I have collected over the first 4 weeks of work shopping. By doing this, it helps to make clear sense of the concepts you are working with and the connections between different discoveries. 


“Cinematic Device”   /   Workshop One

Through the use of cinematic techniques such as framing and the creation of my cinematic device (laser cut camera lens), I discovered the element of an ‘in-between’ space. This space unveiled the nature of activities and rituals held within Fort Lane. 


“Script”   /   Workshop Two

I continued my exploration of the idea of ritual with a cinematic viewpoint. I thought of myself as the ‘The Prompter’. This persons job is to remind actors of lines and spatial direction. My twist on this is to set the scene for existing rituals to exist in spaces, or even non-existing rituals, reflecting more towards the derelict spaces or spaces that were once inhabited during Fort Lane’s entertainment era. This was my version of ‘script’.


“Cut”   /   Workshop Three 

From the previous workshop, Chris directed me towards an anthropological concept called liminal space, coined by Arnold Van Gennep. The three phases of liminality and the occurance within rituals interested me and connected with the previous work I had done. I went on to explore the idea of liminal space in a physical spatial lens within my mini models and my 1:50 sectional model.


“Surface”   /   Workshop Four

Further research into liminal space led me to Victor Turners analysis which included identifying conditions of liminal space. These included layering, blurring, dissolution, and ambiguity. I explored these conditions as a physical surface in order to resemble their spatial effects. 


The next stage was to pull these ideas together to create a design intervention that provided an environment for liminal space to occur. I came to the conclusion that this would most likely be achieved through the use of public interactive art installation.

“Surface” // Week 4

Following from the “Cut” workshop, I wanted to explore further into the surface qualities of the reflections/mirrors from my 1:50 model. 


Victor Turner believes dissolution is an integral part of the process when it comes to liminal space. This act of formally detaching from an individuals social structure is then followed by a series of ambiguous conditions. These conditions include layering, blurring, abstraction, dissolution, and integration. There is no limit or order to these conditions, but it is what defines the experiential qualities of the liminal space (transition).


I have explored these conditions through surface material. Continuing my exploration through glass material, I have played with acrylic sheets testing out what can be done with the material. Experimenting through burning, melting, translucency, transparency and opaqueness. I hope to uncover the conditions that Turner discusses through these surface materials.


“Cut” // Week 3

For this weeks ‘Cut’ workshop, I used this model making opportunity to explore the 3 phases of ritual; pre-liminal (separation), liminal (transition), and post-liminal (incorporation).


I thought about the anthropological meaning behind liminal space and attempted to portray that in a spatial experience. The idea of removing yourself from your current social structure, moving through an ambiguous state and reemerging into a new societal structure with a new identity. Themes of ‘in-between’, ‘threshold’, and ‘fragmentation’ informed my decision making behind these quick fire mini models. 






For my 1:50 sectional model, I wanted to focus on stripping back the foreground and showing the historical elements of Fort Lane. Decayed materials and derelict moments provide a subtle insight into pre-existing rituals. A space of fragmentation may allow a partial view into these rituals with the help of a bit of guidance.


I have explored the use of fragmented reflection in this model to provide an awareness of self in space, as well as ritual spaces that may be active or inactive. 


“Conceptual + Theoretical Research” // Week 3

From work developed in Week one and two, I have been interested in exploring liminal space. The idea of liminal space originates from anthropology which is the study on human behavior and societal patterns. An ethnographer by the name of Arnold Van Gennep was well known for his work regarding rites of passage and the three major phases that are included. These phases consist of pre-liminal (separation), liminal (transition), and post-liminal (incorporation).  


According to Van Gennep, a rite of passage defines moments in people’s lives where a transition occurs, whether that affects one as an individual or as a social group (1909, Van Gennep). Before this transition occurs, one is separated from their normal social structure and identity. Once in the transitional space (liminal space), the individual or group is outside of their normal space and time. The next phase is incorporation where an individual or group reenters their normal social structure with a new social position or identity. Examples of these experiences are weddings, funerals, and baptisms etc.


This view of rites of passages can also be seen with a spatial lens. In the context of Fort Lane, the liminal space can be used as a method to connect people to Fort Lanes history. It was once known as the entertainment hotspot of Auckland when Queens and Everybody's theatre opened in the 1910’s. By separating (pre-liminal) people from the current spatial structure and leading them into liminal space, they can hopefully come out into the incorporation phase (post-liminal) with a new perspective or some form of enlightenment from the liminal experience. 


To achieve this, I am currently exploring how the use of public art installation can act as the liminal experience. The intervention will ensure these states and phases exist in the spatial experience, with motivation for awareness of self in space. 


A, Van Gennep. (1960). ‘The Rites of Passage’ Translated by Monika B. Vizedom and Gabrielle L.Caffee. Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd., London E.C. 4, England

“Conceptual Drawing” // Week 2

Fort Lane was once known as the entertainment centre of Auckland. Queens and Everybody’s picture theatre were built and opened in the 1910′s and seated hundreds of people. Screenings were run over two sessions from 11 am-5 pm and 6.30 pm-11 pm. After closure, these forgotten gems have sat empty decaying over time, while being shut off completely to the public. 


Fort Lane has now become a minor transitional zone which helps CBD workers (mostly business men and women) shave a few seconds off their journey time from A to B. This lane was also seen as a dark scary alley way at times of night, motivating unnerving feelings passing through. 


The installation of the ‘Eyelight Lane’ by Swedish artist David Svensson, was a massively impactful intervention. The red neon line gave character to Fort Lane, something it has been missing since the theatres. This element of entertainment and awe has been lost for so long but Svensson has shown that it can be reintroduced with ease.


My drawing below explores the entertainment history of Fort Lane and the current attitude towards its decay. What could Fort Lane look like if it once again became the entertainment centre of Auckland? What could provide an insight into its previous usage and the pre-existing and existing rituals?


“Script” // Week 2

This is my initial abstract generated from ideas and concepts explored from the first two weeks. This abstract will continuously change every 1-2 weeks as I discover more key words and generate new concepts.


Key words:

- Ritual / Frame Composition / Negative Space / Background / Foreground / Stage / Deconstruction

Fort Lane is a transitional space. Movement of people, vans dropping off goods; these are rituals that take place. Interaction between space, event, and movement create these scenarios. Frame composition and negative space offers a detailed insight into the rituals that shape the space. Deconstruction provides a perspective on a new stage. The stage of theatre and film can be manifested into the background of a space, but its purpose is for the foreground. These principles give rise to public intimacy and participation.