Cultural Codes: an investigation into the practice of living culture in contemporary Māori art forms within interior space.


NZ, New Zealand , Aotearoa

Presented by Sound Concepts
Tokyo Designers Week
Oct. 26th - Nov. 4th
Grege Showroom,
4-7-17 1F Minami-Aoyama,

Cultural codes

Project Overview

The Cultural Codes exhibition is part of the Sound Concepts Research Programme which is a research collaboration between local industry and staff and students at the Faculty of Architecture and Design, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Cultural Codes uses a narrative design approach to explore cultural aspects and simulations to connect traditional values with contemporary practice. The design methodology centres around the narrative of Te Whare Pora (the house of weaving) from Maori culture.

The developed product exhibits a flexible acoustic product that has the potential to be used in a number of classroom and commercial applications.

It is envisioned that this development of an acoustic kit-of-parts will lead to commercialisation of an online data driven design, specification, testing and ordering system of acoustic 3D forms for interior environments.


カルチュラル・コード展示会は、音響コンセプト研究プログラムの一環として開催されます。音響コンセプト研究プログラムは、ニュージーランドの首都ウェリントンにあるヴィクトリア大学建築デザイン学部の教師、学生と地域企業による共同研究です。カルチュラル・コード展示会は、物語や古くからの伝承をデザイン通じて表現するナラティブデザインの設計法を用いることで、文化的要素を深く探求し、シミュレーションによって現代の生活と伝統的価値の融合をはかります。設計法は、マオリ文化において大切にされている織物を作る家Te Whare Pora(テ・ファレ・ポラ)の伝承をもとに構築発展させたものです。



Process Model

Te Whare Pora

"Te Whare Pora is held as a place of artistic mastery and the knowledge passed from one generation to the next is enriched with the wisdom and mana gained from those who it came from. The goal of the exhibition is to immerse the participant into the mindset of the master weaver at work; therefore being introduced to Te Whare Pora as physical space and a state-of-mind."


テ・ファレ・ポラ-Te Whare Pora(織物をつくる家)は、マオリの伝統の中で、芸術的な感性を磨き、技術を熟練させる場として世代から世代へと受け継がれてきました。そこを訪れる者は、代々に蓄積された智慧と宇宙に流れる生命エネルギーのマナに満たされます。 展示会の目的は、訪問してくださった人々がテ・ファレ・ポラの中で創作をしている最高の技術を持つ織りの名人と出会い、その目を通した世界を知り、そして、その意識状態に浸る体験にいざなわれることです。 テ・ファレ・ポラへの招待を受けるということは、その場所へただ入るということだけではなく、制作者の意識の中へと導かれることを意味します

Parametric Modelling

(Digital Creation of the Structure)

One of the key difficulties in creating the structure comes from the fact that mathematically, it is impossible to tessellate a curved surface with identical geometric shapes. It is this fact that drives non-standard patterns and curved architectural forms to rely heavily on creating systems with hundreds of one-of-a-kind panels.

Our system addresses this problem by accepting and relying on the material tolerance of our mass-produced tiles, using the flex and interplay between them to compensate for any minor discrepancies between the digital and physical models.

The digital model of the structure only loosely predicts the final physical form - the materiality of the panels and the unpredictable stresses and folds of real life are ultimately what brings the digital to life, and allows the generic to become one-of-a-kind.





デジタルモデルは完成した物理的形状のおおまかな予測を見せるだけです - パネル素材の具体性と実際に生じる予測不可能なひずみや折り重ねが、デジタルモデルに息吹を与え、なんら面白みのないものが「ほかに比べるものがないたった一つの」建物になるので

Digital Projection

The parametric design of the physical Culture Codes installation and the graphic design of the projected media are inspired by Maori's use of geometry. The triangle is a central building block in Maori design. We use the geometric properties of triangles to create motion graphics illustrative of ancient weaving patterns.




Art Versus Craft

As with craft much of the pieces produced by Māori people bear a function for the everyday or in some cases for special occasions but most items, wherever they sit in the spectrum, still bear some form of decoration that plays back into the meaning or function of the object. The spiritual connection that Māori forms posses is where the divisions between art and craft merge to become indistinguishable.

芸術 VS 工芸


Key Collaborators

Natasha Perkins is a lecturer at the School of Architecture, Victoria University of Wellington. Natasha holds a Master of Technology in Product Development and has extensive experience designing in the interior architecture and industrial design sectors. Over the last 7 years Perkins' main Research and development programme has been towards the development of acoustic tiles working with closely local industries throughout this process. One of these acoustic designs won an international Red Dot Award in 2010. She has also exhibited acoustic prototypes at the Milan Furniture Fair and Osaka, Japan in 2010 that received positive feedback from architects and designers that design public and learning space environments. This work led to the Sound Concepts research project that developed and tested 3D acoustic forms for use in primary school classrooms and public spaces. A key objective for this on-going research is to create environmental solutions through design inquiry that challenge the notions of traditional acoustic treatments within interior spaces. Natasha is of Ngāti Porou and Te Whānau-ā-Apanui descent.

Natasha Perkins
Lecturer, Interior Architecture, School of Architecture,
Faculty of Architecture and Design, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
PH +64 4 4635233 x8107
M +64 (21) 979341

Rhazes Spell is a lecturer of Media Design and Computer Graphics in the School of Design, Victoria University Wellington. His background is in data visualisation, user experience design and media art, working as a user-experience designer and developer in the entertainment, finance, healthcare, defence and intelligence industries. He holds a Masters. and Ph.D. from Duke University, USA, where he studied Biomedical Engineering specialising in computational biology and bioinformatics. Most recently he completed a Masters in Fine Art in Design| Media Art at the University of California, USA. Rhazes's interests lie at the intersection of Science, Technology and Society Studies, Software Studies, and Media Art. Rhazes is interested in projects that explore the relationships between these disciplines. More formally he is interested in work that explores this space through the deployment of software, computation and creative code for interaction and storytelling.

Rhazes Spell, PhD
Lecturer, Media Design & Computer Graphics, The School of Design,
Faculty of Architecture and Design, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
PH: +64 4 463 6234

Jeffery Bartlett, Research Assistant. Jeffery lives and studies in Wellington and has iwi affiliations to Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretauga. He holds a Bachelor of Architectural Studies majoring in Interior Architecture and is currently studying for a Post Graduate Diploma in Built Environments. Jeff's intended master's research will focus on a critical investigation into the concept of tikanga (protocols) and Whanaungtanga (sense of belonging) in contemporary architectural environments. He will critically evaluate and question the crossover from the traditional use of forms & patterns (in essentially private space) to contemporary (and public realm) environments. A key focus will be how tikanga translates within design principles and processes within interior environments and can be inherent in the outputs & artefacts. Future aspirations include possible PHD study with emphasis on tikanga of Ngati Kahungunu in the built environment leading to employment in the architectural profession in New Zealand and overseas to expand knowledge on ideals of culture and the built environment.

Jodi Meadows, Research Assistant. Jodi grew up in a multicultural environment in New Zealand - raised by her New Zealander grandad & Fijian grandma, which is where her interest in all things Pacific sparked. Taking advantage of the courses offered at Victoria to broaden her knowledge in both the visual (design) and pacific culture (pacific studies); these experiences have influenced an interest in Pacific Design. Jodi was an Awhina Summer Research Scholar recipient in 1212 and is currently studying for a Masters in Design Innovation specialising in Culture+ Context, with a research focus into pacific design, aiming to ground the topic in a theoretical background that draws from theories of both Design and Pacific Studies. Future aspirations and opportunities include gaining employment that will allow the continuation of research into visualisations of the Pacific.

Christopher Welch, Research Assistant. Christopher holds a Bachelor of Architectural Studies (Architecture) and is currently writing his Master's thesis focused on using computational design techniques to aid space planning and form-finding for architectural design. Chris's digital work is output oriented, treating specific parametric strategies as a means to an end rather than an all-encompassing philosophy, bringing varied and disparate techniques together in a controlled way with a focus on producing feasible, real world architecture.

Christopher was selected to undertake a summer research scholarship exploring the limitations and opportunities for parametric design in the current New Zealand timber industry. This has piqued a general interest in the interplay between the digital and the physical, and how the aesthetic and function of a structure evolves from a dialogue between these two worlds.

Thanks to

Simon Ellison
Selena Shaw
Graeme Crawley
Phil Nelson
Craig and Jess from Graphic Solutions
Saori Komatsubara
Anne Barnett from Viclink
Abby Buchanan from Viclink
Dave Hakaraia and Te Ropu Awhina
Jack Huston
James Mountain
Rachel Hockin
Carolyn Jowsey
Anne Keogh

And a very special thanks to James and Momoko Kemp from Grege Gallery


Cultural Codes Essay, Sound Concepts 2013

TOI RARANGA, Awhina Summer Research 2012 ‐ 2013

Victoria University, Sound Concepts, Summary 2012

Victoria University, Sound Concepts, Poster 2012

Victoria University, Sound Concepts, Report 2012

Victoria University, Sound Concepts, Research outline 2011


Vic Link
Marshall Day