Professor Dorita Hannah

PhD Performance Studies: New York University United States 2008


Working across the spatial, visual and performing arts, Dorita Hannah has taught and researched in schools of architecture, design and theatre while practicing as an architect, designer and event-maker in New Zealand, Australia, London, Czech Republic, Greece and New York and Helsinki; gaining awards and citations for her creative work. She has also been a Visiting Scholar and Professor to NYU, Columbia and SUNY Buffalo (USA), Beijing Academy of Performing Arts (China), Roskilde University (Denmark) and University of Novi Sad (Serbia).  Dr Hannah is also currently an Adjunct Professor at UTAS (Australia).

While she publishes on intersecting art forms, Hannah's research-led design practice incorporates scenographic, interior, exhibition and installation design, as well as a specialized consultancy in theatre architecture and the creation of international dance-architecture projects. Focusing on 'event-space' her work investigates how the built environment housing an event is itself an event and an integral driver of experience.

Research | Current

Floating Peripheries – Mediating Sense Of Place / Liikkuvat Periferiat – Paikan Tuntu. This artistic research project (consortium), funded by the Academy of Finland (2017–2021), aims to produce new situation-based strategies for unravelling the spatial and conceptual hierarchies and biased assumptions of what and where the ‘periphery’ is in relation to the ‘center’. 

Performative Urbanism: Situating Critical Performance Design Practices in the City is a SSHRC funded two-year international research creation initiative that examines an aesthetic shift in performance design – as an expanded notion of scenography – and its application to political, social and economic realities beyond the prescribed stage, specifically the spatialization and politicization of our experience of cities.

Weak Architecture & the ‘Abjectile’ of Theatre’s Historical Avant-Garde. This research investigates the convergences and divergences between theatre’s historical avant-garde and architecture’s concurrent vanguard. It transforms the Deleuzian objectile – as object-event – into abjectile in order to propose new forms of performance space that align with avant-garde action.

The Theatre: Form Without Function or Function Without Form? By investigating spatial performativity (generally) in order to reimagine performance space (specifically), this research considers the figurative and literal ‘place of theatre’ in our current age of global intermediality where sedentary structures can no longer house the mediatized spectacle of daily life.

Signalling Through the Flames: Media Imagery and the Embodied Empathic Gaze. Drawing on Antonin Artaud’s call for artists and audiences to vividly communicate and experience the intensity of events, this meditation on a practice-based research project outlines and discusses three iterations of Island Icarus – as landscape event, site-specific installation and intermedial exhibit – that utilised bodies, video and the screen to enact a visceral engagement between image, space and action.

Teaching | Current

MArch (Masters of Architecture) Thesis supervision

Advanced Design Masters Studio: Performative Urbanism & Event Architecture

Postgraduate supervision

PhD supervision: 3 candidates at UTAS (Australia) and 4 candidates at Aalto University (Finland)

MArch (Masters of Architecture) supervision.


2017:   Container Globe: Silver in NY 2017 Driven by Design Awards, Honourable Mention in the 2017 American Architecture Prize (Architectural Design / Cultural and Special Mention in the 2017 Architizer A+ Awards.

2017:    Container Globe: Silver in NY 2017 Driven by Design Awards, Honourable Mention in the 2017 American Architecture Prize (Architectural Design / Cultural and Special Mention in the 2017 Architizer A+ Awards.

2017:   A+W (Architecture + Women) Dulux Awards, NZ: one of 5 finalists in Monroe Diversity Award.

2016:   Noiheena: Ceremonial Bowl: Selected for exhibition & Special Mention in Hobart Town Hall 150 Design Competition

2015:   NZIA Medal: Blyth Performing Arts Centre, NZ Institute of Architects (Theatre Designer). Also gained a DINZ 'Gold Pin' (2015), NZ RLB Property Industry Award (2015) & NZIA Regional Award (2015)

2011:   DINZ Award: NOW/NEXT: Performance Space at the Crossroads for Environmental Communication

2010:   College of Creative Arts Research Award: Massey University Research Awards

2009:   World Stage Design Awards (Korea) Silver (Set Design) and Gold (Costume Design)

2008:   Monroe Lippman Memorial Prize: Distinguished Doctoral Dissertation NYU Tisch School of the Arts

2007:   Esteemed Researcher Award: Massey University College of Creative Arts

2006:   DINZ BeST Gold Award (Designer’s Institute of NZ): Production Design Award for Aarero Stone

2004:   NZIA National Award: (NZ Institute of Architects): Special Category (Research) Heart of PQ

2003:   Milka Bliznakov Prize: (International Archive Women in Architecture) commendation (no single prize given)

2000:     Odom Memorial Award: Distinguished Masters Student, Paulette Goddard Award & TSOA Grad Scholarship

1999:   AASA Refereed Academic Citations: (Australasian Schools of Architecture): Design and Consultancy: VUW Laboratory Theatre: Studio 77 & PQ’99 Exhibition, Landing

1999:   DINZ BeST Award (Designer’s Institute of NZ): Exhibition/Production Design for Closer: ATC

1999:   UNESCO Laureate:  Prague Quadrennial 1999:  NZ National Exhibit

1994/5: Chapman Tripp Wellington Theatre Awards: Best Set Design 1994 & Best Costume Design 1995

1994:   NZIA Award: (NZ Institute of Architects): FHE Galleries (in association with Architectus)

Areas of expertise

Theatre Architecture, Performance Design, Urban Performativity, The Historical Avant-Garde, Spatial Justice

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Prague Quadrennial: International Jury Member (2019)

Board of Directors: TaHTO PhD Program (2013-2017)

SAAR International Doctoral Summer Research Academy (2011-2018)

Prague Quadrennial Creative Team: Architecture Commissioner (2011) Theory Commissioner (2015)

Affiliate Member: Theatrum Mundi (NY): Global Street & Stage

De Tao Masters Academy member: Shanghai (from 2014)

Current co-Chair of PSi Performance+Design Working Group (Performance Studies international)

Current co-Convenor of IFTR Architecture Working Group (International Federation of Theatre Research)

Board of Directors: Performance Studies International (PSi) 2009-2014

Co-Curator for Fluid States PSi 2015 event (globally dispersed conference)

Chair of OISTAT History/Theory Commission & member of Governing Board

International Organisation of Scenographers, Theatre Architects & Technicians

Member of Board of Directors: IDEA: Interior Design/Architecture Educators Association (2001-1012)

Member of Academic Board and Technical Board: Toi Whakaari: NZ National Drama School (1996-2012)

Member of Spatial Advisory Committee: AUT: Auckland University of Technology (1998-2012)

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Hannah, D. (2018). Event-Space Theatre Architecture and the Historical Avant-Garde. Routledge. Pages: 378.
  • Hannah, D. (2018). Event-space: A performance model for spatial design. In G. Marinic (Ed.) The interior architecture theory reader (pp. 300-309). Abingdon, Oxon UK: Routledge. Related URL.
  • Hannah, D. (2018). What Might Be a Nietzschean Architecture?. Performing Architectures: Projects, Practices, Pedagogies (pp. 19-34). London, England: Bloomsbury Methuen Drama.
  • Hannah, D. M. (2018). Absolute, abstract and Abject: Learning from the event-space of the historical avant-garde. In A. Aronson (Ed.) Routledge Companion to Scenography (pp. 119-134). United Kingdom: Routledge. 10.4324/9781317422266.ch9
  • Hannah, D. (2017). Scenographic screen space: Bearing witness and performance resistance. In J. McKinney, S. Palmer (Eds.) Scenography expanded: An introduction to contemporary performance design (pp. 39-60). United Kingdom: Bloomsbury Books.
  • Hannah, D., & Brown, C. M. (2016). Mapping turbulent gestures and liquid ground. In P. Rawes, S. Loo, T. Matthews (Eds.) Poetic biopolitics: Practices of relation in architecture and the arts (pp. 221-244). London: I.B. Tauris.
  • Hannah, D. (2015). Disappearing acts: The performative exhibition as spatial research. In J. Moloney, I. Smitheram, S. Twose (Eds.) Perspectives on architectural design research: What matters; Who cares; How (pp. 152-162). Germany: AADR Art, Architecture and Design Research.
  • Di Stefano, J., & Hannah, D. (2015). Suspended moments: Cruel intermissions in cultural space. In S. Grant, J. McNeilly, M. Veerapen (Eds.) Performance and temporalisation: Time happens (pp. 53-64). United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.

Contact details

Primary office location

Level 2, Room 201
New Zealand