Grace Williams The Roof Over Our Head

Student Spatial 2021 Credits
  • Student
    Grace Williams
  • Contributors
    Meg Rollandi, Georgina Stokes

What is a roof? What does a roof mean? To have a roof over your head. To feel safe. To feel secure. A roof is vital, is necessary, is integral to shelter. To unpack the value of a roof one must consider what a roof does.

In the case of Government House, the roof becomes a symbol of colonialism and submission to the Crown. While the House has limited accessibility, the roof can be seen from multiple sites surrounding the grounds. The recently restored clay roof tiles present a well kept, wealthy aesthetic which creates a false portrayal of the quality and condition of many New Zealand homes.

This project is a voice for people. It inspects, questions and challenges how funding is allocated to different social projects, and how some projects are given priority over others - particularly those projects which contribute to New Zealand’s outward image (national identity). The Roof Over Our Head comments on the treatment of social housing by reflecting this treatment onto Government House. The time-based installation sees an exponential deterioration of the roof quality, which in turn effects the quality and liveability of the rest of the House.

A narrative is constructed around the design to assist in communicating the social implications and aftermath of the project. The narrative also communicates the structural alterations needed to set up the project. Because of these contextual requirements, the project is primarily delivered through a short animated video.

Lighting considerations along side materiality and fabrication contribute to the performance of the roof deterioration. The increasing visibility of the time-based installation at night effectively visualises the condition of the roof throughout its lifespan.