Design Within Reach—Graduate Thesis

Practice Area


University of Manitoba


Project Vision

This practicum project borrows from the narrative qualities of a typical exhibition as a means to guide the design of both public spaces and exhibition halls. Through the examination of the cultural context of the museum’s theme and location, design guidelines and the pedigree of the adaptive reuse, this project gave the designer a better understanding of the function of museums, the role of culture and heritage in design, and how to design a better visitor experience for all.

The foundation for this project is the notion that the exhibition is a sequence of experiences, in a heavily narrated and curated environment. The concept of sequential spatial experiences with undertones of communication led to theories of narrative as a theoretical framework. The core concept—the parti developed for this practicum—is based on Tzvetan Todorov’s theory of narrative structure summarized as “Equilibrium, Disruption, Resolution and New Equilibrium” and translated for this project as “Environment, Event and Legacy.” The parti informed the organization of spatial experiences within the building, the flow of the exhibitions, even the name of the museum and how it was represented graphically.

Project Details
Design Team

John deWolf (graduate student), Dr. Lynn Chalmers (thesis advisor—University of Manitoba), Dr. Cynthia Karpan (thesis co-advisor, examiner—University of Manitoba), Brian Everton (external examiner—Design For All Inc.)