Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Ideal Architecture Unit: Vacant Offices into Desirable Student Housing

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posted on 2021-11-15, 20:56 authored by Kurtz, Jenneke

The architectural quality of student housing in new Zealand is a growing concern. Students often accept living in damp and mouldy flats as “a rite of passage”. Student Housing highlights that the environment students live in directly impacts how they think and feel, and ultimately how they succeed at university. Those students fortunate enough to live in University Halls rather than private accommodation are only provided with basic facilities that cater to the ‘typical student’ rather than their individual field of study and personal differences. This research proposes that we exceed current expectations and practice, firstly through designing accommodation based on students area of study and, secondly, through prefabricated design of a single ‘Ideal Unit’ adapted to suit a specific site. Specific design for architecture students will be explored, due to higher housing demands than most students. establishing what makes architecture students different from other students is essential in order to cater to these needs. These are both physical and intellectual needs, ranging from facilities such as workshop, pin up space and drawing boards to the need for architectural delight. Prefabrication allows faster construction and lower costs, however this design method has resulted in ‘copy and paste’ architecture that is monotonous and without excitement. An ‘Ideal Unit’ with a small number of variations allows no two users to have the exact same experience. The work of Le Corbusier is explored, in particular the Modulor. This thesis argues that the Modulor is applicable to modern design and should be used, to ensure we build for the human body rather than arbitrary measurements. The desired outcomes of this research is a site specific design located in Wellington. A prefabricated unit is modified for the site with the ability to be applied in another location. Overall this research will comment and critique on current institutional student housing practices, both locally and internationally. While advocating for a change not just to architecture student accommodation but to all student accommodation. What we study and how we live are so intertwined that we can no longer ignore the needs associated with what we study, we must design for it.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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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


Wood, Peter