Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Urban blue space: An Architectural exploration into Sea-Level-Rise Resilience and the future of South Dunedin

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posted on 2021-11-23, 13:06 authored by Greer, Ali J.

Due to anthropogenic climate change, sea level rise (SLR) will cause low-lying coastal areas such as South Dunedin, New Zealand, to be permanently flooded, jeopardizing future viability as a commercial and residential community. Using South Dunedin as a case study to test built environment issues, this thesis carried out design research into adaptation strategies for continued on-site occupation with SLR. Exploring the extreme scenario of a transition to a floating suburb, the research examines: retrofitting light-weight buildings with buoyant foundations, adapting larger heavy construction buildings to flood, and explores wider urban design strategies for the transition to a resilient floating suburb. Design interventions had to respond to changing conditions from present day Dry Land, to an Urban Wetland (0-500mm standing water), to the eventual Urban Blue Space (500mm+ water depth).  The project proposal has three design objectives:   • ZC, Zero-Carbon – While climate change is inevitable, mitigation to reduce the severity is possible through lowered emissions, improved building technologies and changes in human lifestyle.   • SLR, Sea Level Rise Adaption – Preparing for and adjusting successfully to the consequences of SLR, which will require radical lifestyle and architectural changes.   • HR, Holistic Resilience – For a community to be holistically resilient it must be able to consistently provide for all 5 human needs (Carmona et al 2010, 134) despite changing conditions. This meant addressing both existing and future challenges.  Adaption and continued on-site habitation is possible if significant lifestyle and architectural changes are embraced. SLR requires a site-specific design response. Successful adaptation requires a holistic multi-disciplinary long-term commitment to a resilient future.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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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


McCarthy, Christine