Living with Floods: Reimagining Flood Resilience in Wairoa's Residential Buildings

Intro image MODOS
Cyclone Gabrielle strucks Wairoa, New Zealand - The issue of climate change and the impacts of flooding

As our climate is warming, the amount of moisture increases in the atmosphere, which becomes an energy source for storms. Storms lead to heavy rainfall, and flash floods are generated with the intensity of heavy rainfall shifts due to unpredictable weather patterns. As a result, the Wairoa region was severely flooded due to the occurrence of Cyclone Gabrielle, with residential buildings being inundated and damaged. Therefore, this thesis investigates a residential dwelling in Wairoa, New Zealand, as a case study to analyse, implement, and propose adaptation and mitigation strategies that achieve flood resilience by allowing homes to be retrofitted and adapted to mitigate future flood risks such as flash floods.

In the past, the township of Wairoa experienced major flooding events and continues to be impacted by it. When Cyclone Gabrielle struck the township of Wairoa in mid-February 2023, the storm caused widespread flooding throughout the affected low-lying areas and placed considerable strain on the community, as infrastructure suffered damage and buildings and houses were inundated. The current flood control measures that were utilized in the impacted residential homes were insufficient and were not considered flood-resilient to mitigate the impacts of the storm and the impacts of climate change. Therefore, the main research question guiding this thesis is: ‘How can Wairoa’s existing residential buildings be retrofitted to be more flood-resilient and mitigate future climatic flood events by proposing adaptive housing and mitigation strategies?’

The scope of this thesis investigates adaptation and mitigation strategies derived from high-level precedent case studies (both internationally (labelled white) and locally (labelled red)), analyses a specific residential typology (state housing) in Wairoa as a case study, and thus implements feasible adaptation and mitigation strategies through the process of modelling that demonstrate a flood-resilient, retrofitted design that can be replicated in Wairoa's residential buildings.

Site maps full
Site Maps showing the wide and close-up context of Wairoa with flood extents
Precedent studiesss
Precedent Studies Research Analysis (Internationally (labelled white) and locally (labelled red))
Plan and section
Floor plan and section drawing of existing dwelling with retrofitted elements
Residential building typologies analysis in Wairoa
Axonometric drawing
3D models
Former existing dwelling on piles vs Retrofitted dwelling with elements that adapt and mitigate risks of flooding
Comparison of retrofitted dwelling in dry vs wet conditions