Rainwater's Well-come: Resettling former refugees into New Zealand
There are now an unprecedented number of refugees world-wide. The global impact of this is felt in New Zealand, with the refugee quota set to increase in 2018. The refugee crisis is an important design problem that architects must engage with as refugees are a particularly vulnerable group of people. Typically refugees have been assimilated into New Zealand society, however it is known that this process can cause psychological harm. This thesis seeks to investigate how architecture can thoughtfully and compassionately engage with refugee communities through a design-led investigation which will explore how a dwelling can meet specific cultural and spatial needs while providing opportunities for self-employment, and how a space which is specifically designed for refugee needs can embrace diversity and create opportunities for intercultural dialogue in the wider community. To investigate this, a sociological framework is used as a lens to examine methods of integration which provide potential ways for architecture to be manifested. Refugees often arrive with few economic resources and can be more reliant on the state and their surrounding communities. The biggest issue felt over long-term resettlement for refugees is a lack of employment which has a direct impact as they don’t have enough money to meet their everyday needs. This can also contribute to a negative public opinion about refugees. To address this issue, this thesis seeks to investigate how a hybrid building type, the shop-house, could be explored to provide refugees a dwelling that could meet their specific cultural and spatial needs and create potential opportunities for self-employment, self-determination and intercultural contact. The shop-house is a fundamental feature of a city, and can provide an economic foothold for people of all economic means. However, this thesis discovers its limitations and explores an alternative option to allow a refugee community to put down roots and make a new life in a new country which also enriches the host community.