Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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City to Flood: A new urban planning model for urban adaptation to climate change induced flooding in Dunedin

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posted on 2021-12-06, 23:59 authored by Neill, Abby

Currently 40% of the world’s human population lives within 100km of a coast. With the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicting that sea levels will rise between 0.52 and 0.98m by 2100, and with increasing climate change induced extreme weather events affecting urban settings, the ways in which people reside in coastal areas needs to be addressed. As water levels rise, both permanently through sea level rise, and temporarily through storm surge events, areas of high population in low lying areas will have to reconsider their typical housing and infrastructure design methods, and/or their lifestyles to address this more frequent or potentially permanent influx of water into towns and cities.  Current methods of flood adaptive architecture often consider solutions at just the individual house or building scale, despite the clear need to be able to analyse and design with wider changing urban landscape conditions driving decision making. In response, this research investigates possible design strategies for adapting housing to climate change induced flooding, while enhancing the liveability of changing local community environments. This is investigated through a case study design-led research process, and is complimented by a survey of residents. The case study site is a flood prone suburb in the city of Dunedin on the east coast of the South Island in Aotearoa New Zealand.  Key findings of the research point to the importance of employing not just a purely technical approach to flooding adaptive housing, but also to using a community-led approach to re-design to understand how people will react to, use, and adapt to repurposed built environments that respond to climate change. This reinforces the need to conceive flood adaptive housing at least at a street and neighbourhood scale, and preferably at a whole suburb landscape scale, rather that just as a single housing typology solution. The research concludes that combining flood adaptive housing with ecosystem-based adaptation solutions to climate change induced flooding could lead to a different, more ecology-integrated way of living for inhabitants of low lying coastal areas. This in turn is likely to have positive social and psychological benefits for inhabitants while increasing community resilience.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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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


Pedersen Zari, Maibritt