Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Architectural Indicators

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posted on 2021-11-13, 12:31 authored by Hay, Jonathan

A political crisis is currently underway in New Zealand with a critical lack of affordable well-designed housing. Due to the presence in New Zealand of such vast timber resources and our enviable global location for export shipping, there are great economic and industry opportunities for the production of prefabricated timber housing. However, the contemporary architectural position on prefabrication is often limited by the inability to evidence individuality, diverse detailing and robust habitability with a predetermined production ‘formula’. This thesis argues that the anonymous open plan nature of prefabrication facilities is restricting prefabrication from achieving high levels of architectural design that evidence qualities of craft. This thesis argues that by using an interdisciplinary approach recognising qualities of shared authorship with prefabrication, this highly effective form of construction can satisfy a wider market while maintaining key architectural values of individuality (authorship), detailing (craft) and habitability (integrated technical functions, sustainability, etc.).  The design research explores how the design of a large-scale prefabrication facility can encourage craft and authorship within production processes. Similarly through design exploration the facility intends to provide a cohesive understanding and implementation of complex and specialised industry systems alongside production processes. The design also explores how the facility can provide an environment where this collaboration can be meaningfully encouraged, while also facilitating collaborative learning to resolve prefabrication design-related problems.  The site for the proposed new Trade Build Facility is on the border of Wellington’s operational port of Centre Port, on the south intersection of Waterloo Quay and Cornwell Street, Pipitea, alongside a resource of raw logs with multiple national and international transport modes. The thesis proposes the experimental design of a facility that focuses on timber beginning with the processing of the raw log at the input end, through to the pre-fabricated housing units at the output end. This thesis proposes a production facility that also takes on the role of an educational design vehicle for both the architect and the architectural student to develop and engage the latest technologies of design and construction in the field of prefabrication, providing them with the foundation for entering the complexities of the current architectural design profession. It is intended that users will witness the actual creation of a system of architecture, in a setting explicitly designed to enable these conditions to transform and evolve in step with the latest industry developments. This results in a productive partnering between design and construction, production and education, architect and architectural student through the refined inclusion of craft and authorship in architectural design.  The thesis actively seeks a design solution that develops future design outcomes of prefabricated timber production facilities through an enhanced and responsive adaptability within the facility. The building design also encourages robust and cohesive collaboration by incorporating multidisciplinary specialists with the production and education processes of prefabrication. As a result this thesis argues that architects will be provided greater opportunities for exploring craft and authorship within the context of prefabrication. The problems addressed by the strategic design experiments are prefabrication focused; however the situation is emblematic of a greater problem in the overall field of architecture. Through a focused evaluation on the collaborative environment experienced in the production of prefabrication, valuable lessons are transferable to all collaborative construction-based work environments, facilitating the ability to engender qualities of craft in an architecturally advanced industry.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970112 Expanding Knowledge in Built Environment and Design

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Brown, Daniel K.