Landscapes of Desire: Designing for Equitable Access to the Gentrifying Tasman Coastline

Ingrid Anna Schwalm-McEwan

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Axonometric Master Plan

The desire to visit and live in New Zealand’s coastal landscapes is causing an increase of property prices in areas like the Tasman District (Freeman & Cheyne, 2008). Median sale prices in town centres including Motueka near half a million, which raises the question of how residents are to access these spaces with a median wage of only $19,500 p.a. (Residential Sales Price, 2017). This thesis takes the case study of Marahau, a village 30 minutes’ drive from Motueka, and at the start of the Tasman District’s greatest draw: the Abel Tasman National Park. This proposal contends that with increased care in future design for Marahau, the village could act as a satellite for Motueka, supporting long term residents, tourists, and seasonal workers alike. Hence, the newly designed Marahau would alleviate current pressures on Motueka, as well as ensure positive outcomes for the whole community should any gentrification occur. In this way, this thesis aims to create a design that fosters equal access for all to the coastline. I argue that for any gentrification to have a positive effect for existing residents as well as incoming gentrifiers, a flexible housing model that is suitable to the needs of both long term residents and short term users needs to be implemented.

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Site Section

To investigate design outcomes suitable for the Marahau case study, this thesis undertakes a methodology of analysing the site and gentrification theory, researching precedent, and then establishing a design practice. It finds that despite the widely-held belief that the beach is a place for everyone, and contrary to recent forays into the study of coastal gentrification, there is a marked lack of architectural responses to the issue of enabling lower income people to equally access seaside spaces.

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Beachfront Concept
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Courtyard Concept

The proposed design for Marahau, therefore, intends to address this gap. The proposal calls for staged development of an 18 hectare site, focussing on the proposed first stage. This is to become a community hub concentrated around cohousing complexes, and including amenities which Marahau village currently lacks, such as a library. This thesis advocates for cohousing and coworking situations that increase community cohesion, create micro-economies to support residents, and are flexible enough to accommodate for different types of residents. In this way, locals can benefit from where they live, and will not be displaced away from the foreshore.

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Axonometric Master Plan