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The Last Grain: Designing the Quintessential New Zealand Dwelling for a Future with Less Glass

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posted on 28.09.2021, 00:14 by Hayes, Lauren

Sand and aggregate are the world’s second-most extracted resource behind only water, and more than 75% of dredged-up sand is used in construction as a critical component of glass and concrete, often causing significant damage to ecosystems and coastlines. Sand extraction is rapidly increasing worldwide, while the recognition that worldwide supplies are finite is still limited. The United Nations have acknowledged sustainable natural resource use as a pivotal factor to improving economic prosperity and human wellbeing globally.

Meanwhile, New Zealand architecture is increasingly dependent on glass as a key conveyor of the landscape, freedom and command of space. This reliance presents a major contradiction between sustainable natural resource use and themes in idealised residential architecture. This opposition between the poetic aspects of successful architecture and practical application of sustainable principles is also evident in existing scholarship. This research portfolio attempts to develop approaches on how this issue could be addressed.

This thesis contributes to the development of much needed scholarship that addresses and problematises the issues associated with the fact that in the near future, the construction industry be more deliberate in how much glass is used for minimal wastefulness but maximum impact. It will investigate opportunities of designing with less glass through poetic design in parallel with scientific analysis, examining existing buildings’ sand usage and determining limitations for a framework for designing with less glass.

This thesis aims to raise awareness of the discrepancies between sustainable resource use and current New Zealand architecture themes. The acknowledgment of these issues must be accelerated in the architecture community to prepare for the imminent crises of the sand shortage and its architectural implications.


Advisor 1

Petrović, Emina

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Date of Award



Victoria University of Wellington - Te Herenga Waka

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Victoria University of Wellington - Te Herenga Waka

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

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Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture