Case Studies

Challenge to build better

December 2017: The Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities - Ko ngā wā kāinga hei whakamāhorahora National Science Challenge is one of 11 National Science Challenges established by the government in 2013.

Eleven challenges were progressively launched from late 2014 with the aim of focusing research effort on significant issues that matter most to New Zealanders. The Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities (BBHTC) challenge was launched in May 2016.

The BBHTC National Science Challenge is a collaboration hosted by BRANZ and involving researchers from more than 20 research organisations and companies. It brings together a team that includes expertise in design, architecture, construction, planning, geography, behavioural sciences, economics and technology.


Putting knowledge into action

December 2017: While it's agreed the construction industry needs root and branch transformation, for this to happen, government will need to take the lead and companies will need to be incentivised to do things differently.

With National Science Challenge 11 (NSC11) Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities (BBHTC) well underway, initial work on the Transforming the building industry strategic research area (SRA) has focused on establishing the current state of industry knowledge. From this, we can plan ways to effect change in the industry. The research themes of the SRA are around innovation, people (training, education and capacity), technologies and processes to deliver societal needs for now and the future.


Preparing for the future

December 2017: One of the strategic research areas in NSC 11 is Transforming the building industry. What will this look like? Focus groups have shared their insights and ideas on how best to address issues facing the construction industry.

The construction industry plays a major role in New Zealand's economy, remodelling, growing and enhancing our environment, as well as affecting the lives of current and future generations. Nevertheless, compared to other industries, the construction industry has long been criticised for its conservatism and lack of innovation.


Decoding housing messages

December 2017: In the 2017 election year, housing has been a hot-button issue with politicians, broader government and the public. What is it about these overarching themes of social justice and wellbeing that capture our attention? By looking at how politicians have defined New Zealand's housing problems, particularly supply and affordability, researchers hope to better understand how diverse messages are translated into policy and practice.


Investing in affordable homes

December 2017: While central and local government are encouraging new builds and the release of land for residential purposes, high numbers of residential new builds are not affordable housing for those with limited resources.

Up to the 1980s, New Zealand enjoyed a steady supply of affordable housing, but now there is a serious shortage in many centres. A National Science Challenge project seeks new ways to address this issue.


Land costs and affordability

December 2017: It has become taken for granted that the cost of housing is driven by land prices. Certainly, the land price is generally the biggest ticket item in the cost structure of a new build.

Builders and developers say the cost of land is a major barrier to building dwellings that low-income and middle-income households can afford. A National Science Challenge project is looking at what drives land prices.


Valuing Sunshine

August 2017: The famous Swiss-born French architect Le Corbusier once said that people needed space and light just as much as they need bread or a place to sleep. To paraphrase, dwellings that are situated or designed with good exposure to sunlight are generally preferred as places to live and work compared to those with lesser light levels. Now, research organisation Motu Economic and Public Policy Research have managed to put a price on that sunshine.


Rebuilding great neighbourhoods

August 2017: In the wake of the devastating Christchurch earthquakes, Opus Research has been investigating how to rebuild great neighbourhoods. They developed an online computer-aided survey that incorporated complex scenarios and involved survey participants answering questions that revealed the trade-offs they would make to meet their needs and preferences. This process allowed participants to build a picture of what their life might look like if they lived in the inner city at different stages of the city rebuild.


Supporting regional settlements

August 2017: The strength and integrity of regional settlements in Aotearoa New Zealand is under scrutiny, with questions about how to reboot struggling regions. There are economic and demographic issues linked to quantitative evidence of declining and ageing populations and challenging economic circumstances.

In response, National Science Challenge: Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities has the objective of building a better understanding of the lived experience of regional and small town New Zealand. Its mission is to support local efforts to make these places more attractive to live, visit, work and do business.


Can higher density enhance liveability?

July 2017: Higher-density housing requires quality urban development to deliver liveable, walkable communities. A National Science Challenge funded survey in Auckland showed this is what people want from where they live.


Kainga Tuatahi

May 2016: Kāinga Tuatahi is an innovative residential development on Ngāti Whātua Orākei tribal land.  The development embodies the principles, objectives and aspirations of the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities Challenge.