Tamin Song Kōrero

Student Spatial 2021 Credits
  • Student
    Tamin Song
  • Lecturers
    karamia muller, Deidre Brown
  • School
    University of Auckland


An important consideration when approaching the issue of homelessness is to understand that perhaps it is not the lack of physical shelter or material resources that is the most damaging.

The less obvious underbelly of homelessness is described within the word itself; these people are not merely without “house” but a “home”. The lack of home creates disconnection, and a depraved sense of belonging.

Accordingly, I posed my question “How can architecture create communication and reconnection?”

The solution to reconnection, lies in the solidification of identity and sense of belonging. Reconnection is made possible when mutual acknowledgment of stories, experiences and hence, each and every person’s value is solidified. This happens not only among themselves but also with the wider society who often disregard the homeless to be “nobodies”.

Māori traditional arts and crafts played a big role in doing just this- understanding of one’s own and other’s stories. their history. Traditionally, Māori architecture employs carvings to symbolise protection from ancestors on the exterior and display intricate stories of their identities in the interior. I have brought the forms and ideas of Māori architecture into my proposal as a unique reinterpretation of the Whare Whakairo, tailored to meet the specific needs of the homeless.

The ancestral lineage carvings have been translated into discrete individual panels that are carved by the occupants. A representation of the present and past stories of the now “homed” residents. Each dwelling unit has its own carving work area to work on the panels, when complete they are installed vertically on the exterior of the building, to create a reinterpreted form of poupou: symbolising a tangible lineage, a connection and sense of belonging.

I have chosen to bring these carvings to the exterior (traditionally interior) as the representation of the stories of the “homed” is critical to the wider connections with society. The high-rise vertical arrangement acts as a loud voice towards society that speaks of the many stories that have been silenced till now. Reminding society of the value of the creators.