Tzu Shou Huang The Outsiders: The Journey of Lost and Found

  • Tauira / Student
    Tzu Shou Huang
  • School
    University of Auckland
Judge's comments:

A stunning and whimsical response to the opportunity presented by the derelict St James Theatre. This project presents a romantic reimagining of both the St James and the role of identity and self-discovery in the design of urban spaces. The short animation is an effective storytelling device that enhances this rich and imaginative project.


"Both the theatre and urban space are places of representation, assemblage, and exchange between actors and spectators, between the drama and the stage set. Finding their roots in the collective experience of everyday life, they are ordering experiences of that chaos."
-Christine Boyer: The City of Collective Memory

Outsider (noun)- a person deemed not belonging to a particular community, masked off from society and forced to put on a façade. A foreigner, an alien, a stranger.

Yet what lies beyond the architectural façade, which forms a mask similar to the ones we wear daily to fit into society?

Sitting silently on Auckland's Lorne Street for almost 100 years, the decaying St James Theatre presents an ambiguous urban character that has seen better days. Yet theatre, where we share our stories, is a place where we can witness our identity as a diverse community genuinely blossom. Breaking through the constructed homogeneity of NZ society, which is yet to reflect its cultural diversity in the built environment. This project establishes a place to address cultural amnesia by creating a new sense of 'home' within a building that synergizes with the community.

"The Outsiders: The Journey of Lost and Found" intervenes within the St James Theatre and its neighboring site (once a movie Regent Theatre), both a forgotten void on Lorne Street and intends to establish a fluctuating collective memory for diverse communities. Created through an experiential sequence of spaces and emotions representing the ups and downs of outsiders who experience being lost and found as they cross-vertical and horizontal thresholds. This is achieved by combining existing and new structures with sensations created by light, materiality, textures, patterns, and a play on indoor and outdoor thresholds. Inspired by Tim Ingold's 'The Temporality of Landscape,' engages with the concept of the past, present, and future. Users are guided on a journey across time zones: achieved through a tripartite structure. The narrative film functions like chapters in a book, the journey of one walking through 3 chapters, performing a script of the site's history:

Chapter 1-"Past"- The Lower Ground consists of the Foyer, a return to Romanticism, and the Te Waihorotiu stream that runs beneath Queens street and St James. The Foyer acts as a cultural "exchange whirlpool" and a sense of rebirth.

Chapter 2-"Present"- The Ground Level is the St James Theatre

Chapter 3-"Divine"- 2nd Floor open is the 'Divine,' a Roof garden that opens up to the sky.

Each space is not only a series of static moments but creates a journey of emotion, from lost to found. The architecture and moments build onto one another and guide you into the main spaces. The proposal aims to recover one's identity in a damaged and journeyed site. By synthesizing a romanticized past and preserving the fragments of the abandoned building with an industrial present, the project creates a healing ground for the city, for new collectives emerge, allowing them to be shared among many voices.