Background:Skyrocketing house prices and land values have driven the rise of medium density housing in Aotearoa. Tight building codes and high construction cost have resulted in ubiquitous townhouses becoming the go-to architectural typology of medium density. Typical townhouses compress the components of traditional family homes into a compact floor plate. Rooms have hierarchical amenity and low privacy.
The homogenous typology fails to respond to the needs of consumers who are most drawn to medium density housing. The demographics of young adults, empty nesters, and retirees are mostly compatible with increased density. But the current form of medium density architecture in Aotearoa is unresponsive to their specific needs.
Research objectives:Crafting medium density architecture to the requirements of these groups will evolve public perception of medium density from an unpleasant necessary evil to attractive and desirable place to live. Developing housing solutions targeted at Aotearoa’s ageing population will increase their wellbeing whilst freeing up traditional standalone homes for the next generations of kiwi families to enjoy. Designing responses to the needs of young adults will enable cohabitation in an equitable manner. Increasing access to housing through more appealing opportunities for partnered ownership.
Research method:Built examples of compact, prefabricated, and predesigned architectures are reviewed to understand the opportunities and efficiencies of modern building delivery. Informed by the review, prefabricated modules are designed to harness the specific requirements of construction in Aotearoa. The modules are used to develop a set of self-contained and shared housing forms. The predesigned architectural responses are then crafted into targeted outer and inner suburb development proposals.
Potential implications:The current form of medium density architecture in Aotearoa is of high importance. The assent of the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021 in December positions Aotearoa’s cities for a major expansion of medium density housing. However, the current performance of medium density is concerning, driven by low consumer expectations and demands. An innovative and demonstrative architectural response to context and consumers is necessary to evolve performance and perception of medium density architecture in Aotearoa. Evolution is necessary to ensure a prosperous future for our cities and their inhabitants.