Mending a broken 'Heartland'
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Citation:Stewart, K. (2021). Mending a broken ‘Heartland’. (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture (Professional)). Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand. https://hdl.handle.net/10652/5536
Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/5536
RESEARCH QUESTION How can a community hub aid in the revitalisation of a small, declining rural town in ‘Heartland’ New Zealand? ABSTRACT Forty years of successive neoliberal governments have eroded New Zealand society. Those who benefited from the previous generation’s investment in the welfare state voted to pull the ladder up behind them and open the floodgates of globalisation. Younger generations and poorer communities paid the price as Aotearoa transitioned to an individualist user-pays society and entered into a race to the bottom. The country now faces mounting problems of unprecedented modern inequality, unaffordable housing, and physical and mental health crises. Despite the illusion of western prosperity, those not born into generational asset-wealth are now worse off than their parents were by virtually every quantifiable metric, and the opportunities for a stable New Zealand life diminish by the day. Rural towns have been impacted the most adversely by these policies and the urbanisation that came with them. Their communities have been marginalised and relegated to society’s outskirts. The underinvestment in these regions has exacerbated unsustainable urban migration and entrapped many small-town residents in cyclic impoverishment. In addition to the wider issues these communities face, with the developments being made in food technology and the global shifts in consumer attitudes towards animal byproducts, small rural towns are set to face further adversity in the coming decades. This research project aims to explore community infrastructure which could assist in addressing these growing issues. The paper’s research investigates the interlinked problems created by trickle-down economics and the architectural and social service responses that could aid in the revitalisation of rural towns. The research methodology involved extensive literature/media reviews and architectural case studies. The design methodology involved comprehensive contextual research, a thorough site analysis, and numerous design iterations. The research concluded with the proposal of a community hub design intended to holistically address the town’s needs, provide opportunity, entice migration, and reestablish a sense of community amongst the growing rural and urban divide.