Monuments to Memory: Walls that Resonate, Spaces that Speak

April Broderick

Bungalow 1960S New
72 Jutland in 1963, Jutland Road streetscape, Hauraki (Symes, 1963)

How can an archaeological exploration of an intergenerational New Zealand state home inform the 21st century domestic?

Inspired by personal experience of losing the family home, this thesis explores the bonds we form with architecture. It seeks to find a means of recreating and encouraging these bonds through residential design, and what this might look like in a rapidly changing and often transient environment.

Place-attachment, narrative and memory are recognised as the basis of an individual's identity, highlighting the importance of home in cementing a strong sense of self. Research indicates that a strong sense of self improves resilience and confidence in children and adults alike. Abundant evidence for engaging practices that encourage place attachment is explored to justify investment into congruent design solutions; improving connection and place attachment is of significant benefit to the inhabitants of a space. Accepting and acknowledging what makes us 'us' is a crucial aspect of this research.

Broderick Bungalow 2017S Narrative Combined
Photos of bungalow on night of relocation (Broderick, 2017). Abstract images made the day after the removal of the family bungalow capturing the story (Broderick, 2017).

The design proposed in this thesis draws heavily on the idea that residential architecture that is provocative in its richness, its humanity and its innate aesthetic is critical when considering the future of New Zealand residential architecture. This concept particularly applies in areas that are transitioning from quarter-acre homes of yesteryear to high-density housing. Here, a suburban site once home to a well-loved, intergenerational bungalow is reimagined. Homage is given to the land's history and its past occupants, highlighting the importance of acknowledging our pasts and the impact our memories have on our ideas of place and self. 

Family Tree 3
Family tree depicting the family members who occupied the bungalow with conceptual characterisations of family members in sketch form, exploring their activities within the bungalow, their posture and their character (Broderick, 2019).

Evidence-based design is paired with narrative and poetic intent in order to weave together a design capturing the memories and personalities of the former dwelling and occupants while encouraging the formation of new ones through engagement with architectural moments.

The design proposes four stand-alone residences of varying sizes, each designed with a life-phase and personality. Courtyards punctuate the dwellings to define the limits of each property, with a wall of each adjacent home forming the boundary. The design attempts to recreate the original intergenerational bungalow now reimagined as a series of smaller, suited dwellings designed with the needs of each client in mind.

The clients are the author's family members, and the design considers their changing needs through the passage of time and into the foreseeable future.

Proposal Site A1 Poster Op2 Edit 2
Concepts & Site Plan (Broderick, 2019).

The earlier research and workings explored the link between connection, nature and human wellbeing. The design appreciates the need for community and connection but understands the importance of privacy.

The decision was made to maintain the removal of the dwelling in the proposal, capturing the real story of the site as it really occurred. This decision also acknowledged the challenges associated with the bungalow itself.


“The New Zealand bungalow was an archetype moulded by the events and experiences of the early 20th century. It is a house of its time. Bungalows tend to be small and dark, with poor orientation, and although they dabbled in open planning, they are still more compartmentalised than we tend to want these days. People now want more space, there are different social expectations, and we live in a different way. How, then, do you align an old form with modern desires? … Bungalows are hard to renovate and difficult to add on to … the bungalow is a knotted form, resistant to opening out or adding on to.”

— Nicole Stock (2017, p. 45)


Stock describes the knotted form and its lack of flexibility, noting the characteristic compartmentalised structure of the bungalow. While this makes the bungalow a challenge to modernise, it does provide insight into how one might restructure this compartmentalisation to better suit the contemporary domestic. There are nuances to the bungalow’s structure that are important to hold on to when re-envisioning it, such as maintaining this compartmentalisation but adjusting what this looks like and how the pieces are stitched together.

There is a quite literal stitching of the pieces of the bungalow that occurred once the dwelling was moved to the house yard and set back together, which further contributes to the poetry of stitching together pieces of domesticity – with stitching being a once common domestic duty.

The findings of this thesis culminated in the proposal of four residences, each embodying a personality or essence from those who previously occupied the site. The areas of the home lend themselves to personal narratives of occupation, with the site a long-serving canvas for them all. The spaces we tend to favour, such as the verandah or the kitchen, become a part of our spatial landscape and our preference for such domestic spaces over the others reveals the tasks and activities we set about doing.

Specific spaces draw memories of family members, with one or two rooms perhaps more notable than others depending on what that individual spent their time doing. In this thesis, the author’s family were the individuals for whom the homes were crafted, and it is their narratives of occupation that are used to inspire their new embodied dwellings.

An attempt to hone in on the needs of the occupant, paired with stories about their use of the domestic space offered by the bungalow, inform the design. This allows a dedicated design focus for each home and minimises potential for unused, wasted space which is better used for facilitating social and community engagement.

Additionally, each home takes its form from the literal shape of an interaction or personal attribute of the corresponding family member. One house appears to hug the site, while another appears to hold out a work of art.  Each stand-alone residence features a wall which acts as the courtyard boundary for the neighbouring property. This is an observed natural boundary as opposed to a marked, guarded one; there is no ambiguity about each space in order to clearly communicate where the limits of occupation exist.

The courtyards weave throughout the site, permitting the established trees, some of which date back to the site’s conception, to continue growing. This aids in maintaining the street scape and assists in creating a connection to the past through nature.

At the centre of the four homes is a shared internal courtyard, through which a path winds. The path follows that of the cut made through the walls of the original dwelling before it was separated and moved off-site. In this story, the void is now reinstated as a path that leads to the meeting of four walls – each of a separate home – and pulls them together in a place of connection.

The forms of each home engage their own personality dependent on their dedicated occupant. Home can be different things to different people; consistent interpretations are used throughout all residences, such as a preference for green space (biophilia), site narrative and safety. However, the activities within the home differ depending on life phase.

Broderick Axo
Isometric showing the four residences (Broderick, 2019).
Court Areas Section Broderick
Shares spaces

Each stand alone home has access to at least three green spaces that offer different levels of engagement and privacy. For each home there is a private green space accessible and visible only to the occupants, a partially private green space that is to be shared with the neighbouring home (two sets of occupants) and a collective green space which is to be shared by the occupants of all homes on the site, and that sits at the centre of the property.

By providing different levels of privacy, occupants can use these green spaces as they wish and engage at a level they are comfortable with. Offering choice and allowing occupants to make their own decisions about how they occupy the site and how they engage with those around them gives them a sense of control, increases their security and may improve the likelihood of them engaging with the shared spaces.

A variety of available green spaces also means that those using them do not feel they are inhibiting the enjoyment of others by occupying the shared space, and nor do those who are not occupying them feel their access to green space is restricted.

A criticism of current approaches to green spaces is that they are either strictly private or shared. Private spaces fail to  foster community and lie dormant for much of the day, while the purpose of shared spaces can often be ambiguous and lead to concerns of encroaching on others. This ambiguity can result in underused spaces, with introverted and shy individuals discouraged to use them at all.

Waitemata Streetscape Key X2 R A1 Poster Downsize
Waitemata and Jutland Road streetscape renders (Broderick, 2019).
Broderick Verandah House Final

The most northern part of the site features a sturdy single-level home designed for ease of wayfinding and access. It features heavy use of internal courtyards accessed through wholly openable sliding panels. These panels are layered in a series and through each the next can be seen, creating horizontal, layered volumes that the single-storey dwelling might otherwise lack.

There is a sense of connectivity and interaction as each room visually feeds the next, as well as superior indoor-outdoor flow and ease of access to nature.

Verandah House was designed with older individuals in mind, with the key objective being the long-term maintenance of autonomy while providing great access to nature and social interaction.

The form of the home is solid and secure, with a single 'arm' that reaches out to form its own courtyard, and one that  joins with that of Quarter House at the back of the site. Together they create a spine for the site, and wrap around the street-facing, smaller properties protectively.

The Verandah House is accessible and promotes easy wayfinding; it is set on one level with a seamless transition between interior and the outdoors. It was inspired by Patricia Symes, the most longstanding occupant of the original dwelling.

Patricia spent most of her life in the bungalow, with both her mother and husband passing away on the property.  She was at the core of the intergenerational narrative of the bungalow, and the Verandah House captures her love of all things domestic: gardening, reading, hosting, nurturing and pride of home.

The home weaves around courtyard gardens and is designed to embody Patricia’s main places of occupation in the original dwelling in her later life: the library/verandah, the garden, the kitchen, the foyer/place of greeting and the dining room. She enjoyed observing the world around her even when confined to the dwelling due to poor health – a very real reality for many elderly people. She spent little time in the seclusion of her own room, preferring to engage with the home and its residents. Facilitating her personality and happiness by bringing these things to her, instead of requiring her to actively seek them out, is a key consideration.

Broderick Quarter House Final

A long, curvaceous form embraces the three homes that sit ahead of it on site as if in an embrace. The Quarter House has generous proportions, designed with a growing family in mind. It prioritises the living and dining quarters of the original bungalow and features bespoke moments that prompt engagement, such as a slide accessible either by ladder or the second storey which delivers the rider to the main living quarters. The high windows provide privacy, frame the desirable foliage of the surrounding trees and provoke curiosity by obscuring the goings on of the shared green space – though there is respite once the wall opens to the window seat and the view is revealed…. or one might choose to climb the ladder to the slide and peak from above.

The body of Quarter House is largely hidden from the street, with only a driveway and tall, distant form visible from the pavement. The upper level of the two-storey home features a court which looks down to the small yard below, and the lower storey connects to the shared space in a seamless transition through use of large window seats. It shares a court with Verandah House at its terminating end which creates a sense of engagement across both levels and those at its perimeter.

Quarter house is the cornerstone piece on the site, serving a function most aligned with the original bungalow. It is intended to be a substantial family home embodying the essence of the living quarters. Living and dining spaces are generous and the house provides long, horizontal views. It is enclosed but open plan design follows Frank Lloyd Wright’s advice to “destroy the box” in pursuit of liveable architecture.

Considered practically, open plan spaces are also of significant advantage for families with multiple young children as their observation is unobstructed. Quarter house in particular connects seamlessly to the shared space with a large window seat opening out into it.

Broderick Workshop House Final

Workshop is a small but efficient double-height loft with a workshop or studio space on the ground floor. The home pays homage to one of the original long-term occupants, Mark Symes, and the three key spaces of his occupation in the original dwelling: the workshop/shed, the lounge and the bedroom.

Mark was a skilled and dedicated artist and craftsman who worked on marbled statues of native fauna, paintings of New Zealand landscapes and traditional Maori greenstone artefacts, such as a mere. He was devoted to his art and spent much of his time in the shed-workshop on site, which he extended to accommodate larger art pieces and more equipment as he progressed.

Workshop House has a street-level studio with an active street fronting wall, which provides privacy as much as it draws attention. A wall facing on to Waitemata Road, though close to the intersection, provides a location for frequent passers-by to observe the artist’s works displayed in the window.

The window is located beneath an internal staircase, which partially cloaks the view of the interior from the street in order to retain privacy.

Workshop Houses is connected to Nook House through an external corridor, though this does not need to be engaged. It exists as an opportunity for collaboration between both spaces and serves as an opportunity for connection. 

Broderick Nook House Final

The site is fronted by a home composed of tucked-away nooks and crannies. It prioritises self-reflection and zones where one can get away' to read, study, or otherwise. These spaces are pocketed by courtyards that enclose the established oak trees.

The home faces the main Jutland Road opposite a playground and is two-hundred metres from a school. Flower and diamond motifs provide views in and out.

It is a means of engaging the community with a site that is well-known and remembered, and which is passed daily by school children and parents who are witnesses to its changes. It also provides an active solution to the northern face of the site which is busy and faces periodically heavy traffic. It is preferable to embrace the activity as opposed to hiding from it poorly.

Its form consists of many nooks and crannies, exploratory and responsive to the grove of existing oak trees. It bends and adapts to the dictated courtyard and furls upwards as it reaches the back of the home – starting as a one storey residence and unfurling to two at its termination. It represents the transitional life period of its occupants and mimics a growing frond that weaves around and through its obstacles. The form is also one of separation and individuality, though with the maintenance of overall connection.

This is a space created for young adults beginning the transition from childhood to adulthood, suited to young couples, young families or a share house situation. It takes inspiration from my mother and father’s occupation within the bungalow in the transitional phase of studying, first jobs, saving and purchasing their own home. The series of nooks and study spaces that cling from the large open shared spaces are places of introspection, privacy and independence, each offering a different perspective of the surrounding external environment and which are ideal for reading, studying, observing and being by oneself. This reflects the need for autonomy sought by young adults breaking away from their family of origin and forging their own unique path while remaining partially connected to it. The architecture provides new perspective and autonomy while facilitating the support of this family.