Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Mediating the Brief: Reconceptualising Typology for New Zealand's Ageing Population

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posted on 2021-11-13, 12:41 authored by Sawers, Andrew

New Zealand, like much of the developed world, has an ageing population. This fact is accompanied by evidence which shows that people’s life spans are also increasing (WHO 6). As the population continues to age, housing facilities for older New Zealanders are going to become more visible and more important. With huge growth looming for this housing sector questions are surfacing over the capacity for existing elderly housing typologies to allow residents to age positively. Positive ageing is judged by the state of someone’s physical, social and mental well-being (WHO 12). The field of architecture has an opportunity to play an active role in transforming the typology of elderly housing facilities, to make a new living environment that feels like an enjoyable place to be housed during a person’s later years.  This thesis develops a position on the current state of living options for the elderly and the effect they have on the well-being of residents. The findings and insights drawn from literature and case study analysis help to determine a suitable direction for the future design of elderly housing typologies. This is tested through a design-based project. The outcome of this research finds that elderly housing typologies require a change in theme from segregation to integration. In response, the design project proposes a multigenerational housing environment in close proximity to a high number of leisure, health, educational, cultural and voluntary amenities to ensure elderly people can remain independent longer and continue to be active citizens within the community. The project supports strong links with the community through the use of a semi-public external courtyard space which provides significant interface between the elderly and members of the wider community, making it an effective mechanism for integration. The design of interior living environments aims to provide more flexibility to the living unit over time and enhance opportunities for casual social interaction to take place. Overall the research suggests that a living environment for elderly people which is well integrated into the community and provides opportunities for casual social interaction will help reduce problems associated with ageing and ultimately contribute to the elderly living a better quality of life.


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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

870204 Residential Construction Design

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


McCarthy, Christine