Long live the state house : an investigation into the possibilities of retrofit solutions to existing problems with post-war state houses

Thumbnail Image
Other Title
Young, Harriett
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Architecture (Professional)
Unitec Institute of Technology
Turner, David
Byrd, Hugh
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
New Zealand
state housing
public housing design
state house design
modular housing
environmental sustainability
sustainable urban design
social housing
Young, H. (2016). Long live the state house : an investigation into the possibilities of retrofit solutions to existing problems with post-war state houses. Explanatory document. An unpublished research project submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Architecture (Professional). Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand.
With the built environment contributing to a large proportion of greenhouse gas emissions, there is great potential to reduce its environmental impact by addressing the ways in which we construct and use buildings. The residential sector shows the greatest potential for improvement, with 25% of global end use demand consumed by houses alone. Retrofitting provides promise for existing houses; increasing their life span whilst enabling upgrades in energy efficiency and spatial qualities. New Zealand's existing house stock is varied but one of the most prominent house types is the post-war state house, built between 1940-1960 across New Zealand. These houses make up the largest proportion of existing houses in New Zealand. The design of post-war state houses supported and promoted the nuclear family; an ideal which is becoming increasingly irrelevant in modern New Zealand. These houses remain stalled in the era in which they were designed and are now socially out of date, failing to meet the variety of needs of New Zealanders today. Changes in society and the way that we use our houses are explored and translated into architectural problems, which are addressed through the design of retrofit solutions. Long Live the State House asks the question: “How can the development of a spectrum of architectural interventions be used to retrofit existing post-war state houses, in order to extend their lifetime and usability, thus improving social, environmental and economic sustainability?” To answer this, the project explores retrofit solutions to current problems prevalent in these post-war state houses and aims to demonstrate alternative solutions to traditional housing models. The outcome is flexible and adaptable to suit a variety of applications across New Zealand.
Link to ePress publication
Copyright holder
Copyright notice
All rights reserved
Copyright license
Available online at