Thesis Defence: Michelle Dingley

Wednesday, April 1, 2020 10:30 am - 10:30 am EDT

The Path Less Taken | The Intersection of Narratives and the Icelandic Landscape

Michelle Dingley thesis image


Of the many lenses through which the value of landscape is evaluated, the lens most prevalently used is profitability. This thesis rejects that simplistic view and instead offers an alternative: evaluating a landscape via its embedded cultural and narrative history. Specifically, this work explores the intersection between the narratives of Iceland and its landscapes as a means of unearthing and depicting cultural identity. It is through the amassed and percolated tales of the Icelandic people that significance and meaning are embedded into the land. These stories, in expressing their moral and ethical views, as well as in relaying their history, therefore become the identity of the people. By tracing and collecting various stories in the land, the narrative characteristics become a cultural identity, creating an invisible layer of meaning and memory that is imbued unto the landscape.

Employing a distantiation technique—where a subject removed from one’s frame of reference is studied—whereby a foreign landscape and culture are researched, this thesis explores how architecture and design can be used to curate a sequential series of interventions in the landscape that both uncover and amplify the narratives and therefore the cultural identity of a specific site—that of the mountain Stóra-Dímon. The work further explores the intersection between narratives, landscape, and identity, by experimenting with the means of representation. Through a series of perspective boxes that encapsulate the characteristics of the landscape and the series of proposed interventions, the boxes capture and depict precise moments that truly display nuances of identity, narrative, and culture, all of which are embedded in the site.

The examining committee is as follows:


Tracey Winton, University of Waterloo

Committee Members:

Rick Haldenby, ​​​​​​University of Waterloo

John McMinnUniversity of Waterloo


External Reader:

Howard Rideout           


The committee has been approved as authorized by the Graduate Studies Committee.

The Defence Examination will take place:
Wednesday April 1, 2020, 10:30am, closed defence.