Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
thesis_access.pdf (134.21 MB)

Get Wavy: Introducing irregularity into modular timber housing

Download (134.21 MB)
posted on 2021-12-08, 01:27 authored by Irvine, Brittany

The construction industry accounts for 23% of global CO₂ emissions each year¹. Coupled with contemporary pressures of urbanisation, there is demand for increased density construction². To improve the relationship the industry has with the environment it must reconsider its construction methods and material choices. Engineered timber is a sustainable and structural solution for these issues.  Commonly when building with engineered timber, traditional construction methodologies are applied. The material is simply used as a replacement for steel and concrete and does not explore the tectonic opportunities available. This results in the same monolithic multi-story buildings.  This research portfolio offers a new approach to flexible modular housing using cross-laminated timber (CLT). It is researched through an adaptable urban housing complex. It explores the tectonics of CLT and develops a diverse design language that offsets how the material has been traditionally used.  The design research was conducted through a series of design-led experiments comprised of four key phases; the problem, the exploration, the parts and the test. The problem researched key issues around CLT. This highlighted current deficiencies in the design of timber medium-density housing in New Zealand. The research explores the specific tectonics of CLT as an engineered timber product. Developing a series of components that can be assembled on various urban sites. This process translated into a singular site-specific test in Te Aro, Wellington.  The implications of this research are to provide an alternative approach to urban medium-density housing using engineered timber technology. The result of this process is the design of a modular system of interlocking dwellings that can be optimized to site and that optimise the visual and spatial opportunities of engineered timber. Offsetting the current design language of medium-density timber buildings and proposing visual and spatial improvements to inner-city living in New Zealand.  ¹ (Huang, Krigsvoll, Johansen, Liu, & Zhang, 2018) ² (Wellington City Council, 2015.)


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

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


Marraige, Guy