Evolving the Quarter Acre
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Citation:Niddrie, E. (2017). Evolving the Quarter Acre. Explanatory Document. An unpublished research project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture (Professional), Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.
Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/4058
Like egg whites to a pavlova, New Zealand would not be the same without the quarter acre. The phenomenon of the quarter acre represents the iconic Kiwi housing pattern, although its extinction in our largest city is looming. Auckland is currently experiencing a major transformation of its urban form, to accommodate the anticipated influx of new residents by 2040. The primary solution being put forward to solve this problem is the concentration of new dwellings (in the form of terraced housing and apartments), which sacrifice the quality of the environment for a higher density. This completely counters the culture of the quarter acre, which is the most significant housing pattern of New Zealand’s history. This research project explores different patterns of development to find how the legacy of the quarter acre can respond to the requirements for intensification. An ‘evolutionary analogy’ is adopted to help guide this exploration. Formulation of an artificial evolution explains the generation, testing and application of housing patterns from different development approaches and how they relate to an Auckland context, regarding density, infrastructural demands and quality of the environment. Also as part of the methodology, the observation of the urban environment utilises concepts of pattern language to assist with the classification of and relationships between housing patterns. There are two significant conclusions from this research project. Firstly, housing patterns should be considered for their cultural significance, rather than simply their geometric properties. Focusing on the latter can result in the forcing of foreign patterns and consequently undesirable environments to live in. Secondly, the housing patterns that best represent the qualities of the quarter acre in New Zealand need to offer a reasonable density, infrastructural independence, as well as geniality. The ideal balance of these three attributes should be the urban form that Auckland strives for, respecting both the past and the future of the city. Research question: How can the legacy of the quarter acre inform the future urban form of a denser Auckland?