Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Layering History: Applying the Historic Urban Landscape Approach to the New Zealand Context

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posted on 2023-09-11, 07:24 authored by Adelaide Gorton

The housing crisis is a significant contemporary issue in New Zealand that is particularly contentious in areas of significant heritage value. While current heritage management systems in New Zealand present development as a threat to heritage, recent advancements in heritage management theory present an alternative perspective. The Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) approach is a theoretical and methodological framework that presents the urban landscape as a result of the layering of events and meanings imprinted on the environment over time, which collectively result in the environment experienced today. As such, heritage is considered an integral part of the urban landscape, and instrumental in guiding urban development towards a sustainable future, as opposed to being a barrier to it. This thesis presents the HUL approach as a viable solution to address the housing crisis in New Zealand.

This research tests the effects of the Historic Urban Landscape approach on the housing and social needs of an urban community, by implementing an adaptation of the framework’s recommended methodology within the inner-city suburb of Mount Cook, Wellington. As the HUL approach is primarily used by local governments as a long-term strategising tool, this thesis develops a master plan, subsequent Character guides and finally a conceptual architectural intervention on a key site in the suburb, to exemplify how HUL could be implemented within a New Zealand context, and what the effects of this might be in the urban environment. The research found that the implementation of the Historic Urban Landscape approach is a viable option for meeting the housing and social needs of urban communities throughout New Zealand. It guides the development of housing and other amenities within the historic urban landscape in a way that is simultaneously sympathetic to the site and addresses the needs of the community, in a way that comprehensively and sensitively responds to the unique contexts of the historic urban landscape in question.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

130405 Conserving the historic environment; 130403 Conserving intangible cultural heritage

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

2 Strategic basic research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture


Dudding, Michael