Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Urban Compression: Incremental Strategies for Achieving Suburban Densification

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posted on 2021-12-07, 20:39 authored by Wardle, Tegan

Background:  Sprawling, car related development dominates and destroys natural landscapes and productive farm land at the edges of urban centres. Yet, suburbs continue to grow outwards to meet New Zealanders’ preferences for stand-alone housing and keep up with increasing housing demand, while existing dwellings are demolished to make way for new developments.  Research objectives:  This research aims to investigate the implications of building dwellings incrementally to achieve gradual densification within New Zealand suburbs, reducing the need for green field development, and slowing urban sprawl. The objective of this research is to determine how incremental housing strategies could enable suburbs to continue to grow, however in density rather than sprawl, through the design of accessory dwelling units that can be added to existing sites and developed over time.  Research method:  Built and proposed incremental housing projects are reviewed to determine existing strategies and their suitability for creating buildings that are able to grow over time. Literature is reviewed to identify current preferences and priorities for suburban living, strategies for sustainable suburban development and current provisions within district plans for achieving denser suburbs. Siteless and site responsive architectural strategies for incremental accessory dwelling units are developed through iterative massing and plan studies to generate a wide range of potential solutions at each stage of development, continually reflecting on and progressing with the most successful options.  Potential Implications:  The development of spatial strategies for incrementally built accessory dwelling units that could facilitate long term densification in the New Zealand suburban context while reducing the need for the demolition and redevelopment of existing residential sites.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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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


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