What if… buying a house became more affordable?

  • What if housing was more affordable?
  • What if housing solutions were more achievable?
  • What if architects and engineers could contribute creatively to the supply of housing, and at the same time, improve the environment?
The affordability of housing has featured in news headlines consistently throughout the year. But, despite the high media profile, few satisfactory answers have been offered and the dream of owning a home has, for many New Zealanders, been pushed further and further beyond reach.

But is owning a single family unit on a single piece of land the appropriate goal for all New Zealanders to aspire to at this point in the 21st century? Is this crisis really an opportunity to rethink the nation’s goals not just in terms of housing but in terms of all the environmental and social factors that are present alongside housing? With an unprecedented demand to develop new homes in the Auckland region, and the complex housing requirements of Christchurch’s rebuild, surely this point in time can be seen as not a crisis but a strategic opportunity for New Zealanders to address the way we design, build and invest in houses.

As part of my role as Architect in Residence, Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering at the University of Canterbury I presented a lecture in September 2015 examining the crisis as portrayed in the media and investigated ways architects have responded to this urgent need, drawing on local and overseas examples.