Chris Choi Connecting the Fifth Façade: The Archi-Scape concerning cities

  • School
    University of Auckland
Judge's comments:

Beautifully executed vision of urban future with a purpose.
A cognitive map of microcity strengthening the emotional identification with architectural elements in urban context.


Recent technological developments, such as Google Earth and aerial views from planes and drones, have revealed our cities from above, uncovering the vast surface area of the roofscape. Many of these spaces remain closed to the public for health and safety reasons. More so, the lack of attention to the buildings with their context generates the unapproachable environment of the roof level. To address the issues, the thesis argues the roof as a forgotten elevation seen from above and questions how the buildings behave as the medium to experience the ‘fifth facade’ in the context of Chancery Square in Auckland CBD.

The present urban landscapes are multi-dimensional, multi-layered spaces of communication. To understand the city as one, the thesis addresses architecture as the medium that separates the street and the roofscape to examine how it moulds into its context. Modern cities are getting taller; however, we are still looking toward the finite surface area at the ground level for expansion. We remain ‘unconcerned’ with what happens above the cities. The project analysis the current urban design structure by acknowledging the already built environment. By breaking down the external facades of existing buildings, the borders that form around them dissipate, and the internal elements function for both external and internal use. The undertaken process of ‘internalisation’ creates a micro-city within the architecture. The research into urban behaviours helps develop the underlying theme of ‘Unravelling’.

The concept of connecting and dismantling unconcerned elements is experimented on Chancery Square to analyse what factors remain concerned within its diverse urban setting. The design explorations reflect on reknitting the ecological fabric of Chancery Square through unravelling the three buildings and revealing the one ‘true’ facade, the roof. It proposes the accessibility of more public spaces and the invigoration of the lacking day activities in Chancery Square while sustaining its nightlife.

The outcome of the thesis encourages the connections and boundaries to become seemingly visible within the context of Chancery Square to advocate for a metropolis formed through the language of architectural landscapes, not architecture in landscapes. It envisions a universal strategy applicable to any urban situation. It is about building to sustain people, places, experiences, products, and the future.