Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Water as a Social Generator: Activating social and water security in residential Kilbirnie

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posted on 2021-11-14, 01:22 authored by Shearer, Dylan

Residential streets make up a large proportion of accessible public space while failing to facilitate community activity. These streets carry a relatively low volume of traffic, yet are standard in form. This factor in conjunction with the self-contained nature of houses in residential areas results in a lack of social capital in areas with a large amount of social potential.  The suburbs of Kilbirnie on the Rongotai isthmus in Wellington have been selected as the site due to the potential of the streets; in particular due to their width and mono-functionality. The five sites that have been selected have potential far beyond their current use and are going to be used as a design case study to explore pre-emptive disaster design in conjunction with providing social amenities.  The streetscape within the identified site is excessively wide with a large amount of on-street parking. This thesis argues that this extra, underutilised space has the potential to be adapted into an aesthetically pleasing, functional community amenity. The designs will break up the monotonous nature of the residential streets and create a hub for surrounding residents through the exploration of programme and form. The introduction of water storage infrastructure as a programme will pre-emptively service the suburb in the event of a disaster. The likelihood of the potable water supply being severed to both the Wellington CBD and to the Rongotai Isthmus and Miramar Peninsula is high due to the location of the service pipes in relation to the dominant fault lines in the suburb.  The study proposes exploring programmes which challenge people’s perception of ownership of public land and amenity. Re-allocating and prioritising parts of street space to provide amenity for surrounding residents has the potential to initiate a change from monotone, mundane functionality into a hub of social activity, community building and disaster resilience. The design methodology uses precedents which employ techniques that can be used to challenge the norm and provide a design outcome which creates engaging residential spaces.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

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

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


Allan, Penny