Realigning Lifestyle: An integrated approach to ecology, production and living within rural subdivision
The Kapiti Coast is changing. The long awaited expansion of the state highway will see rapid growth along the coast and with it, the rural landscape will face a new set of challenges. As the demand for rural land increases, so does land-use tension. Productive land, which was once converted from an extensive wetland network, is slowly being redeveloped into residential subdivisions in order to fulfil an increasing demand for the country lifestyle. However, lifestyle blocks usually have little productive value and subdivisions fragment natural habitats and ecological systems. The typical method of dealing with land-use is the district plan, which designates the most appropriate land-use to the most appropriate area. However, despite good intentions, it has become increasingly apparent that this planning process is no longer reaching its desired outcome. This thesis will explore new strategies for designing rural-residential subdivision, aiming to address land-use issues through increasing diversity. Set in the beach hamlet of Peka Peka, the design investigates one of the last undeveloped areas of private coastal land in the district. This area is prime real estate, but also holds a high capacity for production. It is situated on the remnants of the Great Swamp, a large network of interconnecting wetlands that used to span the length of the coast, providing the potential to significantly increase the ecological value of this land. The design embraces the opportunity to use the residential development as an economic driver to help this degraded landscape and turn these investments into something that is not only beneficial to its residents, but beneficial to the larger region.