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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Architecture (M.Arch.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



If wilderness refers to those spaces that are unoccupied by humans while architecture is one major way that humans occupy space, the terms seem to be mutually exclusive. However, this thesis argues that wilderness and architecture have a fundamental similarity: they are both ways that humans understand and relate to the world.

This thesis looks critically at the notion of wilderness by acknowledging that throughout time and history, humans have understood wilderness in innumerable different ways and, as a result, have treated those spaces that are deemed wilderness in innumerable different ways as well. It acknowledges wilderness as a “profoundly human creation[1]” and from this admission, explores the utility of predisposition as a means by which to direct the built environment’s relationship to the un-built environment.

Ultimately, this thesis argues that when humans define wilderness in a particular way and then apply that label to a space, they have made a design decision. It investigates the ways in which architecture can apply the label of wilderness to new and even unlikely types of spaces in order to expand the lens through which we, as humans, value and appreciate this Earth.

[1] Cronon, William. 1997. "The Trouble with Wilderness:; Or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature." In Out of the Woods, 28-50: University of Pittsburgh Press. doi:10.2307/j.ctt7zw9qw.8.


First Advisor

Philip Tidwell

Included in

Architecture Commons