Deeply rooted with cultural and historic ties, the coastline is inherently linked to the New Zealand way of life. The coast belongs to ‘the people’ and has been legislated so that land adjacent to the sea falls within public ownership. Most New Zealanders take for granted their ability to access the coast and firmly believe coastal access should be unrestricted. As a result, there is signifcant public opposition to a built-up waterfront. The quality of the coastal environment relies on more than natural qualities. In an urban and suburban setting, the built environment determines which activities and functions can occur and the levels of social engagement that can be experienced. Consequently, the root concern for the future of the waterfront may be a fear of ill-designed developments, escalated by fears of spoiling the water’s edge. The New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement (NZCPS) recognises there is a need for social, economic and cultural development in the coastal marine area. Acting as stimulus for activity, architecture enhances the way the waterfront is utilised. It fosters economic venture and defnes the character of the region. The waterfront faces growing pressure from real estate exploitation. Having to suitably balance the social, economic and cultural needs that come with the location. Impactful decisions concerning the preservation or destruction of historic remnants and the natural condition of the environment must be made. The balance of public and private use of coastal land should also be considered. Arousing local and international contention, these ideologies are at the heart of waterfront debate. ‘Collective Coast’ explores Wellington’s coastal condition and the intersecting desires of public, private, cultural, economic and environmental interests through a mixed residential design proposal. The proposal tests the application of this wide breadth of research, and stretches across many disciplines and design scales. The proposed project is set in Shelly Bay, along Wellington’s Miramar Peninsular. The site allows for a breadth of possibilities gathered from a wide range of literature to be explored. Given the importance of the waterfront as both a destination for the public and a highly sought after residential zone, the project presents major challenges in planning, urban design, infrastructure and community formation. The desired outcome is to create a coastal community that both engages and facilitates the wider public’s engagement with the shared environment.