Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Inclusive Housing: Exploring Culturally Inclusive + Accessible Design in the Contemporary New Zealand State House

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posted on 2023-03-14, 02:52 authored by Powrie, Lydia

The aim of this research is to establish and apply design methods that define an appropriate dwelling for New Zealand’s state housing. The central criteria for this is accessibility and cultural inclusivity. New Zealand’s current state housing scheme is struggling to provide for an ever-growing waitlist of eligible households. Furthermore, the size and design of state homes have remained relatively stagnant, while the average occupant has significantly deviated from the nuclear family it once was. Not only is the current housing stock predominantly low density, but it is also built for a nuclear family in bi-cultural society. However, state home occupants are no longer comprised of two parents + child(ren) from Pakeha or Maori backgrounds. Instead, single-person households, couples with no children or only one child from all ranges of ethnicities make up the majority of the state housing register.  This change suggests there is a potential need for a paradigm shift from three-four bedroom dwellings to one-two bedroom and five+ bedroom dwellings becoming the majority of the housing stock. Not only are the homes incorrect in bedroom size, but many are also inaccessible or culturally inappropriate for households. Due to New Zealand’s diverse range of cultures, there is ‘no one size fits all’ home type for each cultural group.  The findings of this thesis identify a lack of consideration in Housing NZ’s design guides and New Zealand Standards to the wider demographics of its residents. International and domestic case studies are comparatively analysed to identify spatial features that can inform the way state houses should be designed for New Zealand residents. This research has been used to create a design guidelines that provides flexible and inclusive dwellings. Finally, these guidelines are tested on a specific site in inner-city Wellington, proposing a range of dwelling typologies designed for accessibility and inclusivity that are explored at three key scales – the urban landscape, the building envelope and the interior.


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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

School of Architecture


Bakshi, Nilesh; Merwood-Salisbury, Joanna