Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Medium Density - Adaptable Amenity: A flexible housing system to facilitate change and maximise production efficiencies

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posted on 2021-11-23, 10:03 authored by Robertson, Tom

Medium-density Group Housing (“MDH”) has been defined as “a number of horizontally attached (or directly related) dwellings which are normally of one or two stories and rarely exceed three stories above the ground” (Judd 8).   In the context of the New Zealand built environment, this housing typology is widely perceived as being a ‘cheaper’ form of construction, providing a lower standard housing environment. This perception has arisen for a number of reasons. Specifically, MDH is often regarded as lacking appropriate ‘fit’ with the existing urban character and is seen as giving rise to a number of problems associated with close visual and acoustic living proximities, inadequate privacy and daylight, insufficient outdoor private and public spaces and lack of design flexibility. These issues have resulted in MDH being viewed as an urban housing typology that, while accepted as being necessary to meet space and budget constraints, is very much ‘second best’, problematic and not as being particularly desirable.   With shortages of suitable land and existing housing, intensification is a growing issue for policy planners and developers, and a growing focus of residential development. This research investigation looks at how design and construction of MDH could be enhanced through use of prefabrication in order to provide an inspirational and affordable housing alternative that promotes efficient land use, positive health outcomes and social wellbeing and which can generally enhance the lifestyles of occupants. In this context MDH may offer a possible part solution to what is viewed by many as a current crisis in New Zealand housing. Modular and panelised technologies offer possible solutions to the challenge of providing housing that is efficiently produced, provides flexibility and adaptability in terms of spatial configurations and functionality, offering high levels of customisation and personalisation.   These solutions are explored in this thesis through research of theory, literature and precedent studies which inform a design framework. This framework is developed under the following subject areas, namely;  • density and amenity; • environmental fit; • flexibility and adaptability and • production efficiencies  and are used as a basis for design and project evaluation.


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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


Gjerde, Morten