Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Urban Housing & Community: A Case for Collective City Living at High-Density

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posted on 2023-02-20, 03:56 authored by Cook, Ashleigh

Aotearoa New Zealand is experiencing a housing crisis. The cost of housing is rising, and supply cannot keep up with demand, leaving many people in desperate need of better housing options within our city centres. A commonly proposed solution is to provide urban housing in the form of high-density apartments. This is a housing typology that many New Zealanders are resistant to and begs an innovative response to the question of liveability in high-density housing in New Zealand.

This thesis asks, ‘How can shared space and facilities in dense urban housing environments improve liveability?’This research highlights two opportunities for urban housing: firstly, to improve liveability through provision of desirable, community focused high-density apartments; secondly, to address the urgent need for accessible, diverse, alternative housing models in Aotearoa. Following an iterative design-led research approach, this thesis proposes highdensity collective housing as an alternative model to improve apartment liveability. The design results in site-specific development of a high-density mixed-use housing project on Wellington’s waterfront.

The thesis concludes with five key findings. 1. Sharing space and facilities improves urban liveability. They provide opportunities for social connection, inclusivity, mutual support, safety, affordability, and housing stability, among other benefits. 2. Diversity provides choice and results in more desirable urban housing. A variety of unit designs and tenure models are necessary appeal to potential occupants. 3. Mixed-uses help to integrate communities. Providing a variety of public mixed-use spaces and activities allows for the wider neighbourhood community to integrate with the collective housing community in neutral territory. 4. Housing liveability needs to reflect Aotearoa’s housing values. The qualities of safety, warmth, natural light, spaciousness, and access to the outdoors are valued highest amongst New Zealanders (Yeoman & Akehurst, 2015). 5. Privacy gradients improve liveability. When there is an understanding of space as either private or shared, and an obvious boundary between each level of privacy, the liveability of collective housing is improved.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

CC BY-ND 4.0

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

120205 Residential construction design

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

4 Experimental research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture


Southcombe, Mark