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The Pallet Paradigm: A New Beginning for Pallet Architecture

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posted on 16.11.2021, 00:59 by Miller, Aaron

Timber pallets are too often discarded as waste after their shipping lives. If not rescued for upcycling pallets end up in landfills or burnt for firewood which can release harmful chemicals. There is an opportunity in this resource going beyond current design use to foster a more authentic pallet architecture – one where pallets are utilised to their module’s full potential as a primary and structural building element.  This thesis explores to what extent pallets can be utilised in construction and determines their feasibility as structural entities. The themes of modularity and transportability act as key design drivers due to being inherent to the pallets nature. A construction system which effectively uses this nature is the aim, and designed systems are tested through application to the design of mobile architecture.  The final outcome of this exploration is a full scale pallet pavilion utilising a modular – authentic – system which enables an easily portable and structural solution. However the application of similar systems to a larger scale is limited as pallets with consistent module and high strength are rare difficult to source.  A new pallet design is proposed with inherent application as a building component. This design aims to be a highly precise modular and structural system as its primary function, allowing for universal use as wall, roof and floor. The central purpose of exploration is to create high quality, affordable, efficient and adaptable prefabricated dwellings from an otherwise discarded item – this is the potential for the research in future. If the ‘building pallet’ design was integrated into circulation the impact and application on construction from upcycling them into prefabricated building elements could be worldwide.


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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

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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

School of Architecture


Abreu e Lima, Daniele