Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Designing a sustainable, medium density housing solution that is an affordable alternative for developers

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posted on 2021-11-22, 20:15 authored by Saris, Milla

It has been acknowledged that there is a housing crisis in New Zealand (NZ), particularly in the large urban centres (Hulse, 2015). As a solution, medium density housing developments are becoming more prevalent. However, these developments are controversial in a country that prides itself on its generous housing and open spaces.  Sustainability is also an issue in the NZ architectural environment. NZ is a small country isolated in the South Pacific, so ‘sustainable’ materials must often be imported, this long-distance transportation increasing their cost as well as their carbon footprint. Many products also reference ‘green washing’, with companies misleading consumers into believing their product is environmentally friendly (EnviroMedia Social Marketing, 2017). Legitimately sustainable technologies and materials are often seen as unaffordable, and people (particularly property developers) are not prepared to consider eco-friendly building practices if they do not believe they will get an economic return for their investment.  Because of these factors, New Zealand does not have a dynamic and sustainable medium density housing vernacular. The current research addresses these issues by seeking out materials and technologies for use in a theoretical medium density housing development. The project focuses on finding innovative and sustainable potential solutions for architects, developers, property buyers, and wider community stakeholders. It argues that architectural materials and processes should aim to fit as closely as possible within cradle-to-cradle frameworks involving closed loop production, construction and reuse systems (Braungart & McDonough, 2010).


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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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


Gjerde, Morten

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    MDHMedium density housingAffordable housingSustainable housingResidential housingDeveloper housingUrban planningUrban developmentSustainable developmentSchool: School of Architecture050204 Environmental Impact Assessment120101 Architectural Design120103 Architectural History and Theory120104 Architectural Science and Technology (incl. Acoustics, Lighting, Structure and Ecologically Sustainable Design)120105 Architecture Management120107 Landscape Architecture120302 Design Innovation120303 Design Management and Studio and Professional Practice120501 Community Planning120503 Housing Markets, Development, Management120504 Land Use and Environmental Planning120507 Urban Analysis and Development120508 Urban Design859899 Environmentally Sustainable Energy Activities not elsewhere classified870104 Residential Construction Planning870105 Urban Planning870305 Timber Materials870204 Residential Construction Design960311 Social Impacts of Climate Change and Variability960511 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Urban and Industrial Environments960603 Environmental Lifecycle Assessment960609 Sustainability Indicators960610 Urban Land Evaluation960611 Urban Water Evaluation (incl. Water Quality)970112 Expanding Knowledge in Built Environment and Design970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental SciencesDegree Discipline: ArchitectureDegree Level: MastersDegree Name: Master of Architecture (Professional)Environmental Impact AssessmentCommunity PlanningHousing Markets, Development, ManagementLand Use and Environmental PlanningArchitectural DesignUrban Analysis and DevelopmentArchitectural History and TheoryArchitectural Science and Technology (incl. Acoustics, Lighting, Structure and Ecologically Sustainable Design)Architecture ManagementUrban DesignLandscape ArchitectureDesign InnovationDesign Management and Studio and Professional Practice


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