Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Algorithmic Design in Hybrid Housing Systems

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posted on 2023-09-26, 01:35 authored by Paulin, Robert

This thesis utilises digital tools to explore notions of flexibility and resilience in the New Zealand suburban house typology. Through aligning with culturally specific paradigms found in traditional Māori Papakāinga settlements, the research questions current western models of community and connectedness through digital simulations. The methodology brings together social, cultural and climactic forces as key influences to internal domestic programme and overall form.  The design process is informed by occupancy requirements associated with family types and projected domestic behaviour. This is mapped to cumulative weather data in relation to location and context. Buildable form is therefore a reflection of site specific conditions and planning in relation to various social configurations influenced by culture and community. A key aspect of this research is the creation of a residential model for multi-generational living. Long term adaptability of this residential model is established through planning for future organic expansion & contraction within the development through the careful consideration of modular building platforms that can deal with varying degrees of social diversity.  This design research is largely influenced by pre-Socratic theorists and architects working on translating social, geographical and cultural information into data that can inform computational design and simulations. This form of design interpretation through mathematics has arguably stemmed from the birth of calculus in the 17th century, whereby a formula is used to clarify equations with a multitude of variables often represented by Letters and symbols. Utilizing this knowledge in computer aided design (CAD) allows a designer to produce an equation that represents the process from data to design. Aligning design to the mathematical systems allows the work to represent a quantified, systematic depiction of information as opposed to the romanticized view of the ‘Genius Architect’. The workflow and theory behind this research solidifies the role of algorithmic design in architecture and testing the plausibility of these theories in a housing system. While being largely based on the theories of multi-agent systems and algorithmic design, this system also outlines a modular building technology that embellishes design diversity and flexibility.  The architecture proposed utilizes parametric design tools and the concept of housing types in a state of flux, whereby the singular entity of the home is considered as part of a much wider collection of housing situations which is forever changing. By adopting the ecological approach seen in nature we allow the space for intergenerational, bicultural living arrangements that have the flexibility to respond to changes without diminishing the flow of social domains.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

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Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Kawiti, Derek