Eco-Logic: Regenerative Housing for Aotearoa New Zealand

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For too long, the individualistic worldview of New Zealand has perpetrated the development of illogical housing through linear and degenerative approaches to our built environment. This thesis proposes that the current expansion of medium-density housing across New Zealand offers an opportunity to implement a regenerative system of design that better serves our people, community, and the natural environment. The methodology adopted examines the interrelationship of these clients to inform three angles of interrogation that converge on the success of regenerative housing communities. Examining these areas of intersection through a te ao Māori lens, this thesis seeks to develop a regenerative design methodology appropriate to the ecological, historical, and cultural context of Aotearoa, while understanding how these ideas inform the design of medium-density housing.

This methodology first reimagines the neighbourhood as a functioning ecosystem, interrogating the relationship between community and nature, and drawing on nature’s wisdom to develop resilient and cyclical resource flows that provide the community’s needs regeneratively, while restoring ecosystems. Supporting this, the relationship of the individual to their community and to the natural explores the roles of kotahitanga and kaitiakitanga within housing, questioning how the adoption of these values as design principles could support the behavioural and worldview shift required for regenerative systems to succeed at scale.

The design outcome of this thesis presents an alternative model for medium-density neighbourhoods in Auckland. This methodology is applied to the design of a 75-dwelling development in Hobsonville, demonstrating that the same density levels can be achieved while simultaneously managing resources on site, retaining expansive ground permeability to eliminate stormwater runoff, regenerating parts of the site’s native Pūriri forest ecosystem, and restoring the place of people among it.

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