Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Humanising Housing: Exploring the relationship between the human mind, body, and architectural space

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posted on 2021-09-07, 20:45 authored by Lovelock, Oscar

Through the research and analysis of historical and architectural precedent, humanproxemic, behavioural, and psychological research, this thesis explores the potential ofimplementing evidence from these research areas in the architects’ design process forcreating residences. The aim of this evidence inclusion is to engage and enhance thewellbeing of occupants through design and the manipulation of space. The evidence isin the form of designable/iterative parameters known to influence the mind and/or bodythrough a users’ experience of space. The parameters include, proxemics, ceiling height,materiality, and connection to nature and natural light. Reimagining the essentialelements of a home separately, according to their function and use from a human-centricperspective, resulted in a modular design approach. As well as an outline of how theseparameters can be explored in design, an evaluative testing method utilising virtual reality(VR) and questionnaires has been developed and employed. The testing method attemptsto measure the impact of these parameters and their iteration on the user’s experienceof the space. The testing process revolves around the user experiencing a simulation ofthe designed spaces across iterations and answering relevant questions and ultimatelyscoring the spaces in terms of Comfort, Stimulation, Privacy, Social Connection andSpatial Balance. Scoring highly in these areas and providing a successful balance of eachfactor is the main design goal of this thesis. Achieving this goal in space is what this thesisdefines as spatial wellbeing. The main value of this design led research however comesthrough the development and findings from the testing and design processes. The aimwas to create a system that allows a more personally (user) responsive residentialarchitecture to be developed, and to overcome the abyss that sometimes exists betweenan architect’s design on paper, and the built home of a client. This design-based researchaddresses the role design plays in domestic architecture’s ability to improve peoples’wellbeing.


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

Wellington School of Architecture


Gjerde, Morten