Evaluating Design Capabilities in Medium Density infill Housing in New Zealand through Analysis of Entries to a Recent Competition
journal contributionposted on 2021-12-31, 18:49 authored by Morten Gjerde
The profile of New Zealand housing has for some time been dominated by the stand alone suburban house. However, this pattern absorbs considerable land resource and leads to socially stagnant environments, heavily dependent on private motorcars. For these reasons the largest New Zealand cities have declared limits to peripheral growth. Such limits coupled with changes in lifestyle lead naturally to intensification of existing residential areas. Urban planning and design objectives that underpin residential intensification are sound; greater densities can provide for improved social opportunities, bolster economic circumstances to enable a greater range of services to be offered and can make better use of existing physical infrastructure. However, experience shows that the built outcomes are patchy and that many infill projects fall short of meeting expectations for on-site amenity and/or appear to be at odds with the character of the surrounding area. In late 2005, Housing New Zealand Corporation organised an architectural design competition for comprehensive redevelopment of a large site in the Auckland region. On the basis of this representative cross section of designers, research aiming to evaluate achievement by New Zealand designers in terms of residential amenity and fit with the surrounding context was conducted. A review of literature, including the design brief and a number of design guides for infill housing, informs criteria addressing key urban design and architectural amenity issues specific to medium density housing. The criteria were used to assess the entries using a five point scale. The methodology generates data that are used to compare entries and analyses relative strengths and weaknesses seen across all schemes. The results provide a snapshot of contemporary practice in New Zealand, suggesting where strengths and weaknesses lie with respect to planning and design of medium density housing.