Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Wasted Space

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posted on 2022-08-09, 12:49 authored by Thomas, Huw

The world generates 2.01 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste annually, with at least 33% not being managed in an environmentally safe manner. With the rest being sent to sanitary landfills, incinerators, composting or recycling centres. In the case of landfills, the landscape is cut into and filled with waste material from the local urban area. These sites pose a threat to the environment if not managed correctly, affecting water, soil and air conditions. Through these contamination pathways, landfill sites can pollute the contextual landscape disrupting ecological and human health.

The research within this thesis focuses on sealed landfill sites and how they are used spatially post-closure within the context of Aotearoa - New Zealand. Through the analysis of Wellington’s waste habits, the Ōwhiro catchment presented research opportunities due to the catchment housing both active and closed landfill sites. Two of the closed landfills were selected for further investigation as they had been transformed into public spaces, upon further analysis the two sites presented hazards to the local ecology.

Ōwhiro’s closed landfills have been approached as case studies for design-led research. Tawatawa and Happy Valley Park offer a unique opportunity to be redeveloped into spaces for active and passive leisure while also targeting their environmental impacts to minimise their effect. Through the use of sustainable remediation technology and evocative methods, these public spaces can be revised to facilitate an experience that pushes users to acknowledge a site’s previous use and reflect on personal waste habits through the site’s geographical connection to the Southern Landfill cluster.

The applied research methodology highlights the capacity of landscape architecture to visualise socio-ecological issues through artistic interventions that combine spatial and temporal elements. The final aim of the research is to reflect how landscape architecture can embody and encourage ecological activism within the spatial realm.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

CC BY-ND 4.0

Degree Discipline

Landscape Architecture

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture

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


Martinez Almoyna Gual, Carles