Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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From Back-yards to Stacked-yards: An Alternative High-Rise Housing Model

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posted on 2021-12-09, 02:30 authored by Lum, Isabella

Current intensified housing is not perceived by New Zealanders as desirable... Critiques are extensive and the loss of quality, private, outdoor space is decidedly felt. Densification is one of the solutions to our housing shortage and the needs of our increasingly diverse population. Densification has already been set in motion by local councils, but consumer uptake is too slow. Public perception is tarnished by stigma which is reinforced by the repeated failures of the developer-driven apartment market. This calls for new typologies of high-density housing to increase diversity and compatibility. Back-yards to Stack-yards investigates how to improve the design of dense, urban housing typologies for the New Zealand context. This thesis aims to address the most common local critique of apartment living: the lack the failure to provide and support an inviting sense of the outdoors. Outdoor space of all ownership types contributes positively to the dwelling environment. The backyard is identified as a benchmark for enriching the dwelling, providing an array of beneficial affordances. Key are the notions of the quiet sanctuary and the outdoor room that can be completely personalised. This thesis primarily follows a design-led, research method where major learnings are extracted through critical reflections. A strong understanding of resident experience is required and is deduced through an ongoing, in-depth literature review and critical case study analyses. Understanding the resident experience provides key insights into what is lacking from common apartments at a human scale, as well as strategies for improvement. The focus is on the relations, effects and affordances of the amenities and spaces, rather than the typical, simplistic itemisation, allowing for a better breakdown and reconfiguration of factors. Possible solutions and strategies were tested on a central-city fringe site in Wellington. This is a zone where dense, residential development and re-development is already taking place due to population growth. The design outcome is a high-rise multi-unit development. It demonstrates the rich possibilities of a high-rise design with a range of outdoor and shared spaces as well as improved opportunities for personalisation and flexibility.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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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

Wellington School of Architecture


Chicca, Fabricio