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The Home as an Incubator for Dignity in Old Age: An Architectural Exploration for Dignified Ageing

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posted on 2021-11-14, 08:26 authored by Stevens, Christopher Edward

The main intention of this research is to develop a method of increasing the number of residential dwellings which can enable ageing New Zealanders to age in place and experience a dignified ageing process. This is in response to an ageing population, expected to result in a quarter of New Zealanders being over 65 by the year 2030. As a higher proportion of the population will consist of ageing citizens, predominantly Baby Boomers, retaining a high quality of life into old age will become an issue of increasing importance. Attaining this high quality of life is dependent on the provision of dignity and the ability to age in place, and this thesis argues that the built environment plays a significant role in enabling dignity for those ageing. A review of relevant literature informs a theoretical framework which is utilised as the basis of social and architectural critique of the three prolific existing housing options for the elderly. Common architectural and programmatic deficiencies illustrate that in their current state, the existing housing stock and living models designed specifically for the elderly simply do not provide architectural environments conducive of enabling dignity of ageing occupants. As the designers of the built environment, architects have the ability to shape spaces and places which can enable dignity. In response to the lack of appropriate housing environments for the ageing, this thesis proposes three alternative architectural models. These explorations consist of the proactive retrofit of a typical 1940’s State house, the proactive retrofit of a typical 1990’s McMansion, and the proactive new build of a medium density cluster of dwellings. All three models implement common architectural principles and elements, advocated for within the theoretical framework, in order to explore the viability and validity of each of the proposed living models. Overall the research suggests that the three proposed alternative architectural environments do enable dignity in old age, and could viably be incorporated into New Zealand’s future social and architectural context. The architectural methods used and design decisions made are able to be applied to a large number of dwellings and have the potential to increase the number of New Zealanders who can age in place with dignity.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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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

970112 Expanding Knowledge in Built Environment and Design

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Parkes, Peter; Thompson, Kerstin