Gentle Intensification

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Buildings are crucial to our way of being. Not only are they where we live, work and play but they are also the bases of our economy. Being able to improve and sustain the production of buildings is essential in supporting New Zealand’s economic and social growth. The New Zealand construction industry is a target of the boom-bust cycle, and with the current boom predicted to last longer and peak higher than ever before, the industry is really struggling to keep up with demands. As the population changes over this same period, the country faces the challenge of rapid growth in building production, putting pressure on the cycle and increasing the demand on the performance of the industry.

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Currently there is an extensive body of work published on the economic cycle from economic, political science and sociological perspectives. However, from a design viewpoint there is an absence of the cycle's implications on their operations. Therefore, this thesis aims to answer the question: to what extent can design and planning practices alleviate the peaks and troughs of the cyclical nature in the building industry?

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Although there is no definitive solution to this large, complex problem, with a predicted shortage of 70,000 houses by 2030, this design project aims to redefine the quintessential way in which we build large housing developments, by providing a strategy of incremental intensification to combat the boom-bust cycle. Located in a highlighted crucial area of development, Panmure is the epitome of the New Zealand housing typology. Composed of multiple long narrow plots with a single dwelling in the centre, there are opportunities to develop on the front and back of the sites. An incremental solution would allow people to size up and down according to the needs and tastes at the moment one wants to build, or when they are financially able. By utilising the existing stock this project attempts to halt urban sprawl in order to maximise the existing infrastructure and design smaller houses which efficiently optimise space, building houses more fit for purpose.

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