Thesis Thursday: Tunnel Vision

Thesis Thursday is an architectural series showcasing the work produced by the UCT M.Arch (prof) graduates of 2013. These projects tackle a number of issues in vast contexts spread throughout Cape Town, ranging from diminutive park follies to massive desalination plants. M.Arch theses, on one hand; are infamous for exhibiting ideas that simply serve as provocative visions of infinite possibilities. On the other hand, they display imaginative approaches to somewhat enigmatic urban/social issues …… You decide.


Christo van der Hoven

In this thesis an artefact of infrastructure is investigated in terms of three different readings. These readings unpack the artefact and it’s effect regarding anthropology, architecture, engineering and metaphorical associations. These investigations in turn form a strategic framework through which a process of architectural speculation may be informed. 11The Huguenot tunnel is a 4km road tunnel between Paarl and Worcester. It has been selected for the particularity of its experience as well as its underground nature and its association. 1.1The first reading investigates the artefact as a place of supermodernity as described by anthropologist Marce Augé. He describes these spaces in terms of their excess of event, space and self and notes the rapid proliferation of these places of supermodernity and their distinctive characteristics


Following this, the technical characteristics of the tunnel are investigated. The history as well as the construction and operation are presented as a case study in underground construction.

9The final reading is a loose historical investigation into the association and metaphor of the underground as an architectural type. Associations with the chtonian, cosmic, cultural and technological nature of this built type create a final context for speculation.


In this dissertation themes of place, time, archetypical association and spatial spectacle were investigated as they relate to this context. The culmination of this project is a design speculation, which was structured and informed through research into these themes.


Whilst the goal of the dissertation has been to develop design stratagem and test these methods for a specific subterranean context, the primary aim has been a broader exploration of metaphor, specifically related to the underground spaces in contemporary culture.



There are 3 comments

  1. anonymous

    More like Brandon Mosley’s Preserving the Erased: Didactic Architecture

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