Plan B : an incremental housing project in Auckland
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Citation:Weber, P. (2018).Plan B: An incremental housing project in Auckland. An unpublished research project submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements from the degree of Master of Architecture, Professional, Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand.
Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/4326
RESEARCH QUESTION: What might an incremental housing design that promotes economic and social empowerment of low-income groups look like in Auckland? Auckland city faces a housing crisis that affects and marginalises low-income residents the most. The supply does not match the demand for affordable and well-located housing for this social group. This mismatch is largely economic and condemns low-income families to economic stagnation and dependency on the state for shelter. The high cost of houses in Auckland has reached a point where even middle-class families suffer economic stagnancy as they submit to high levels of debt in exchange for secure housing tenure. This oppressive reality is most evident with the people who have “fallen through the cracks,” those who are neither supported by the state nor can afford the private market. They live in in garages, cars, overcrowded houses and severely dilapidated houses that rival third-world slums. Their lack of social mobility exposes the inequality of opportunity in New Zealand, where housing directly affects the pivotal social mobility factors of employment opportunity, residential integration, education opportunity, stability of tenure, and social capital. Incremental housing as a typology adopts the successes of slum building culture, where resident-led housing solutions support their social and economic priorities. Most established slums in developing countries match a middle-class standard of housing that leaves us (in the first-world) with the predicament of how former squatters in these countries are able to improve their dwellings to a middle-class standard while low-income housing has become ghettoized? Access to opportunities in urban environments is not solely reliant on housing, but largely depends on a person’s ‘right to the city.’ Choosing a site that grants this right and designing spaces that foster community formation provides a scaffold for personal economic growth and community building, establishing access to opportunities and social networks that support livelihoods, the micro-economy, and attachment to place. This project brings the incremental housing concept to Auckland, aiming to empower low-income groups, and make them active participants in the creation of their own shelter. The project provides an architectural support system that can respond to local spatial needs, complex family arrangements, a range of financial conditions, and idiosyncrasies that low-income residents need for tenure. The design negotiates between top-down provision and self-help, extending the reach of community housing groups, and equipping people with opportunity and choice by proposing a flexible housing process that aims to help low-income groups break the vicious cycle of economic stagnancy and marginalization.