EXALTED JOURNEYS

 Michelle Ineson 4TH YEAR

Refining road based tourism to better utilise the sublime and poetic qualities of the New Zealand landscape has demonstrated the potential for benefits to arise that could not only improve the experience of the journey but also build both domestic and international tourism, in turn providing economic diversification to rural communities.

It is an established trend that populations are moving from rural to urban environments and that this internal migration is contributing to the pressures faced by rapid population growth in our major cities. This study explores the potential for tourism to contribute to the economies of rural towns with the overarching desire to contribue long term to rural sustainability. The development of themed highways as a means to showcase landscapes and generate income has been successfully perused both in New Zealand and overseas however, the concept of encouraging greater usage through enhanced facilities that challenge the existing vernacular is central in this investigation. In designing sites with the objective to improve the experiential qualities of travel, this research identifies aesthetic, emotional and economic factors that contribute to flow on effects that positively influence rural economies, communities and regional ecology.

The study is in two parts, the first develops a Central South Island themed tourism route that passes through as many small towns and landscape typologies as possible. The second phase sits within this route and involves designing a series of rest stops that reference the awe-inspiring characteristics of the landscape. As an over arching theme this research looks in to the concept of the sublime and how classical music, painting and cinema represent this effectively abstract construct, interpreting feelings of the awe, fear and unease evoked when confronted by powerful natural landscapes. The resulting design interventions draw from the topographical, geological and climatic qualities of the immediate site yet the theoretical framework allows this model to be transposed to any region where landscapes evoke the sublime emotions of astonishment, admiration, reverence and respect.