Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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You Can't Sit With Us

posted on 2022-07-31, 22:44 authored by Young, George

The shortage of housing supply in New Zealand’s central urban areas has seen a large shift in population towards lower density, suburban areas. The urban sprawl away from the cities has had adverse effects on suburbs, towns and the communities within them. The consequence of this development has seen huge rises in housing and rental prices, aiding in the displacement of the lower economic residents. Urban sprawl has effectively created an opportunity in which gentrification can readily occur. Residents of towns that were once seen as deteriorated and dirty have been priced out of their own home and in turn their neighbourhood. Affordable options in the form of community or social housing looks to aid in the issue of displacement, but the limited supply and increasing demand isn’t its only issue. The influx of more affluent residents creates a clear segregation in the community due to differing socioeconomic statuses. The effects particularly felt hard by those most vulnerable and needing assistance as such those in social housing.

A small town where the effects have been felt large is in Featherston, Wairarapa. The proximity to Wellington coupled with the comparative low house prices has seen the rural town completely shift in economic identity. The town is in flux with a clear identity of social segregation. This thesis takes the town of Featherston as a research investigation. Featherston currently has 14 social housing units, with the majority of these not contributing to the social welfare of the tenants. These often run down and barren units do no favours in promoting the unjust stigma of social houses and those that occupy them.

This thesis promotes the idea that the built environment can be used to mitigate the negative connotations and stigma of social housing in suburbia. The thesis argues that spatial alongside atmospheric conditions of a place can empower the residents of social housing rather than marginalizing them. The relationship between the architecture and the users can create a positive environment in which the residents can thrive. At a larger scale, the built environment can help foster the relationship between these residents and the wider community. By doing so, dismantling the social stigma upon the public housing infrastructure better integrating them into with the community.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Alternative Title

Social Segregation of a community, embodied by the stigma of social housing

Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture


Chicca, Fabricio