An Absolute, Liberal Monument: Investigating the Potential of Group Renovation for Cohousing in Wellington's Inner-City Suburbs
Increasingly divergent housing needs together with dilapidated housing stock requires us to consider upgrading many inner-city suburban areas. Renovations to individual dwellings rarely take advantage of the opportunity to develop density, maximize the use of green space, pool economic and social resources, and to share costly but necessary infrastructural changes while retaining or reinvigorating neighbourhood character. The rhetoric of the Moderns and their attitude to buildings of character is still with us, to the detriment of the suburban realm. Attempts to address these concerns have resulted in reductive, generic, commodified space that allows little scope for flexible use by different social groupings. By tracing Denise-Scott Brown’s canonical arguments regarding the place of social sensitivity through the work of contemporary architects Pier Vittorio Aureli and Alexander D’Hooghe, together with investigation of how shared domestic space can be ordered, bounded and framed for a variety of heterogeneous privacies, a built proposition which adds to the formal quality of the inner-city suburbs is developed. This new kind of integrated, shared dwelling can be viewed as a Rossian monument, at once an embodiment of the ‘idea of the city’ as well as discrete, absolute, architectural product allowing the inhabitants as individuals or households a space which can be taken ownership of in a liberal spirit. This thesis elaborates upon discussions between too-often separated realms of discourse that Scott-Brown identified: that of physical form generation on the one hand, and social aims on the other. By using architectural research through design, a proposition for an alternative housing model is proposed. The specific formal and social situation of the building stock under examination form a point of departure alongside recent trends in alternative dwelling arrangements. The point is made that there is a vital role for the place of design in the housing market as a way to shape and redefine statistical analysis of living styles and standards. The design case study is an example of a specific proposition which, rather than being a replicable typology, is an example of the kinds of choices that should be available to suit current demographic changes and social desires.