Rethinking Regulatory Frameworks through Self-Build Practice

Rachael McKillop

Intro Image
Communal Construction

The construction industry is regulated through ever-tightening building codes as governments attempt to manage and control urban development. Financially disadvantaged groups unable to meet the expectations of such codes are forced to compromise living conditions which reinforces cyclical poverty. Architectural disobediences emerge in informal settlements, as homes that comply with regulatory frameworks become inaccessible for the low-income demographic.

This thesis investigates Aotearoa’s DIY culture and self-building theory. Aotearoa’s countercultural associations were historically encouraged by members of the architectural profession to reduce costs and foster participatory design. Now, the remnants of such ideals stand in tension with the building code. Current regulations fail to recognise that compliance requires capital, so they cannot facilitate low-cost housing endeavours.

Expansion Diagram

Kaikohe, located in New Zealand's Far North District, is a small town of limited affluence. Its residential fabric has been victim to an architectural apartheid, meaning the supply of quality housing has been unfairly distributed across the country according to wealth. Despite this, overwhelming respect for tapu and a profound celebration of indigenous culture reveals an eager community. The mauri of this research is summarised in a design methodology allowing people to reclaim mana over their own living spaces through incremental, self-build practice. It asks, 

Can architecture balance the desire for construction autonomy in lower socio-economic communities, within a highly regulated environment? 

Process Diagram
Construction Process for Incremental Growth
Exploded Structure
Structural Components of a Relocated Home

Architectural solutions are delivered through the relocation of typical suburban houses being moved out of Auckland. Design research is developed through the fragmentation and reconstruction of these dwellings, where inhabitants become active contributors in the construction of their housing. Supplied with an initial core structure, expansion units are erected from the recycled structure, the growing dwellings cultivated by the individual. This application of self-building engages construction professionals to upskill the local community, providing expertise and support to ensure that relationships with industry standards are made more meaningful and accessible. 

Model Photos Test 2
Workshop Section Decon
Workshop: Deconstruction Zone
Workshop Section Library
Workshop: Library Zone
Workshop Section Recon
Workshop: Reconstruction Zone