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Interlinked; A New Approach to Urban Expansion in Papamoa

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posted on 08.12.2021, 00:31 by Hinton, Kerry

New Zealand cities are prone to poor urban planning and have a strong tendency to expand out into widespread suburbs, consuming the fertile farmland and natural landscapes that reside at the fringes of urban development.  These types of greenfield development are rampant throughout New Zealand. Posed as the solution to housing issues and a growing population, these developments nullify and alienate the surrounding context. Low-density urban planning is particularly damaging with its maze of curving cul-de-sacs and dead-end streets resulting in an overly complex network with little to no central framework or hierarchy. This lack of internal infrastructure puts a significant strain on static infrastructure such as roads and public transport, which struggle to meet the needs of the end user.  The aim of this research is to develop an alternative strategy for urban growth in Papamoa. Located in the Bay of Plenty, Papamoa is a regional community within the Tauranga city limits, currently experiencing unprecedented growth.  Current projections show development in Papamoa will exhaust current land reserves by as early as 2028, requiring the development of additional land to the south in order to sustain demand. This research aims to respond to this issue by increasing density within the existing sprawl, specifically focusing on the site of Papamoa Plaza, the original retail centre of the area. By reducing the need for greenfield development and enabling better connectivity across the region, a shift in focus of the use of public space can revitalise the existing urban centre to the benefits of connectivity within urban design.  Case studies and literature were reviewed in order to assess their viability within the New Zealand context and to identify key design elements that would be used. Criteria and guiding principles were developed using Assemblage Theory and Space Syntax. Existing developmental framework and growth trends were analysed during the research, then initial design goals and strategies were identified. Using this information, several schemes and approaches were developed. These were evaluated using ‘Space Syntax’ to establish levels and patterns of connectivity. A selection process of the most viable schemes was explored in detail. These were then broken into key components that were progressively developed to generate a range of different options, which were then reflected upon, assessed and, from this, the final scheme emerged.


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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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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


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