Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Big House: Co-living Design for Transitional Housing

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posted on 2022-07-28, 03:01 authored by Webber, Benjamin

This research explores the architectural implications of co-living in a community house that supports very low-income people. Key findings through design research are developed from disciplinary concerns in the literature and precedents. The key findings include architectural implications of providing for optional interaction and architectural implications from the distinction between individual provision and shared use. Design strategies for co-living are identified and worked through a series of design stages for a design proposition. The design proposition, named Our Big House is a medium density transitional housing project in Wellington, New Zealand.

Architectural implications surface through the development of Our Big House and include spatial separation with gradients, and threshold definition to support optional interaction. What is shared is limited by the sustainable sizing of a community, and this informs architectural planning and major formal moves.

This research acknowledges that there are wider issues with housing involving very low-income households. Some of these are mentioned or responded to, such as maintaining social harmony and the organising of people living together. However the structured content and limited scope of this research focus on architectural design strategies and implications.

Benefits of co-living include increased scales of economy, greater facilities, space efficient density, and opportunities for life-skills to develop. Our Big House for co-living proposes an alternative lifestyle centred on a community that can facilitate these benefits and support transitional living.

Design research will provide valuable knowledge for co-living design, propose several key findings, and exemplify these in the design of Our Big House to address housing for community living and very low-income people in Wellington, New Zealand.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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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


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Southcombe, Mark