Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Homeless. Self-Build Housing for Wellington's Transitionally Homeless

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posted on 2021-12-08, 09:24 authored by Goodger, Jake

Housing is an important precondition for people to live healthy and prosperous lives. Access to suitable housing is an essential factor in the overall well-being of individuals, families, and communities. Housing suitability and quality has ramifications for physical and mental health, education, employment, social cohesion and intergenerational mobility. These outcomes directly impact the functioning of communities, broader society, and the economy (Ministry of Business Innovation & Employment).  Per capita, New Zealand has one of the highest rates of homelessness in the world. At 1% of the total population, it is estimated that approximately 42,000 New Zealanders are experiencing some form of homelessness. These individuals are either in temporary or insecure accommodation (OECD). Our capital’s housing supply is evidentially not meeting demand. Wellington is currently 9312 dwellings short of what is required, resulting in multiple tenants residing in singular rooms, and an increase in homelessness (Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment). This issue arises when there is an intermediate population deemed ‘too rich’ for social housing by the Ministry of Social Development screening process. However, due to low current median incomes this group are not able to afford Wellington’s rental prices, leaving them with little to no options in securing healthy and stable accommodation. Those fortunate enough to secure tenancy find themselves marginalised by society as they are not in permanent ‘homes’ but transitional residences on the city fringes.  This thesis explores a novel approach to our capital’s housing crisis, with the specific intention of provoking conversation about alternative approaches to the re-housing of New Zealanders most at need. Giving individuals the opportunity to up-skill, combined with the ability to craft their own permanent home will provide the helping hand needed to get them back on their feet and re-introduced into productive society. Interviews with Wellington’s housing providers and those working directly with the homeless have informed the key considerations for providing housing for the transitionally homeless. The literature review highlights the importance of creating and enhancing a sense of belonging through architectural design strategies. Precedent studies are analysed to understand the importance of location, planning, appearance and the materiality of housing units as well as assessing the validity of self-build housing for New Zealand. This research develops a universal design response to affordable housing in Wellington. A non-exclusive approach facilitates residents as a whole rather than focusing on site specifics, thus achieving a more holistic design concept. This model can be implemented in a broader context to ultimately support the provision of quality and affordable housing to those in most need.  The outcomes of this thesis include; a set of design guidelines for those involved in the provision of housing for the transitionally homeless, and a detailed design proposal for a conceptual housing intervention in urban Wellington.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

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


Leah, Adele; Wilhelm, Hans-Christian