Message from the Chair

    Kia ora koutou

    As we head towards submission of documents relating to MBIE's Mid-Way Review of the National Science Challenges it is timely to circulate some information about findings from research that is being carried out by the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities: Ko ngā wā kāinga hei whakamahorahora National Science Challenge (BBHTC).

    This Building Better Newsletter contains stories relating to a cross-section of the research funded by the Challenge that was reported at our recent Research Colloquium at Auckland University of Technology, 9-10 May.

    Further information about our research, and substantive reports that can be down-loaded for further reference, is available from our website at For those with smaller screens, the site now has a mobile-friendly "menu" button on the top right of the home page to lead you to the relevant research-related pages.

    A lot of information relating to research findings is beginning to appear as we near the end of the first 18 months of substantive research funded by the BBHTC Challenge. Keep an eye on the website for further updates.

    Ngā mihi nui
    Richard Bedford
    May 2018

    Building Better Colloquium

    The Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities Colloquium in May 2018 was an opportunity for researchers from across the National Science Challenge to meet, present and discuss their projects. Held at the Auckland University of Technology, the two-day kōrero began with a pōwhiri at Ngā Wai o Horotiu marae, followed by presentations from the various strategic research areas and contestable research projects - read below and keep an eye on our news page to see more about these in the coming weeks.

    Goodbye Big Cit!y

    The feature article of the June 2018 North and South Magazine features the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities National Science Challenge, in particular the Supporting Success in Regional Settlements programme. Arthur Grimes, Mike MacKay, Harvey Perkins and Director Ruth Berry are all interviewed for the feature.

    Saying goodbye to the city
    Would life really be better in a small town? Joanna Wane asks what you should weigh up before you book a one-way ticket to the country.

    Making tracks to Wairarapa
    With Wellington house prices booming, more people are forging new lives across the Rimutakas. Mike White checks out Featherston on the Wairarapa Line.

    London solution to Kiwi housing crisis

    Dr Kay Saville-Smith from the Building Better Homes, Towns & Cities Architecture of Decision Making research team discusses partitioning homes to provide "new" affordable housing options with Rob Stock of Business Day
    Brick houses in Muswell Hill, London, where many houses have been partitioned into individual flats. Image: Royalty-free for editorial, by Zoltan Gabor.

    The call of home for new graduate

    Jacqueline Paul, from the Building Better Homes, Towns & Cities Shaping Places: Future Neighbourhoods Māori Research team, features in this month's Landscape Architecture Aotearoa. Now that she’s finished Unitec the 24-year-old has just reached out to her local trust up North. Her next 10-year plan is to return to the Takou Bay area (where her father is from and grandparents are buried) to support her whānau plan their papakāinga (housing development on ancestral land) and marae development.

    Jackie Paul at Te Ngaere Marae near Matauri Bay in Northland. Photo: Landscape Architecture

    Upcoming Events

    The Events page is updated regularly, currently it features Te Ao Tangata - the 3rd Universal Design Conference. This conference is all about inclusion by design. By attending you will engage in presentations and workshops around innovative practice in universal design locally and internationally, and shape the way that Aotearoa is designed and experienced into the future.

    We've gone social

    The Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities has gone social with a new face book page. We invite all interested people to like, follow and share the page and its posts on the link below. We update the face book page several times a week and it is a great way to keep up with what is happening in the challenge.

    Data literacy for better research collaboration

    To help system users of all levels with the fundamental concepts around metadata and geospatial data management the team from Next-generation Information for Better Outcomes have created a series of videos. They have also created a booklet outlining the basic elements to add to each dataset, and guidance on how to create metadata for optimal outcomes.

    These have been created as part of a meta and geospatial-data literacy programme the Next-generation Information for Better Outcomes team are running in conjunction with Resilience to Nature’s Challenges National Science Challenge.

    Autonomous vehicles and urban environments

    Imagine a world where driving is no longer a useful skill. It might be a world in which people walk, cycle, and use a shared fleet of electric autonomous vehicles to get around. There might be no private cars or parking, more efficient land use, more affordable urban housing, and built environments that better promote community. In this world, adults seamlessly maintain their social connections and activities outside the home as they age.

    Click on the "read more" link below for the second edition report, Think Piece: Autonomous vehicles and future urban environments: Exploring implications for wellbeing in an ageing society.

    Photo reproduced with permission from ohmio Automotion Ltd/HMI Technologies.

    Vicious to Virtuous Homes and Cities in an Ageing New Zealand

    Two new presentations are available from Building Better National Science Challenge researcher Dr Kay Saville-Smith. They are An Eco-response to Housing Under-Supply, Costly Cities and Our Need for Affordable Housing - ADUs and Partitioning, a presentation to the Guaranteeing Healthy Homes - The Eco Design Advisor Conference 2018, held in Wellington, and Vicious to Virtuous Homes and Cities in an Ageing New Zealand – Hard and Soft Design, a presentation to the Room to Region: Age-Friendly Environmental Design and Planning in the Western Asia-Pacific Symposium, held in mid-March at the Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan.

    Study casts doubt on effectiveness of Special Housing Areas in Tauranga

    Building Better National Science Challenge researcher Dr Bev James has studied the 15 SHAs in the Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty districts and questions whether Special Housing Areas are actually providing affordable homes in Tauranga.

    An aerial view of Papamoa East, where nine out of 14 Special Housing Areas in Tauranga are located. Photo: Andrew Warner, Bay of Plenty Times.

    Passive Low-Energy Architecture 2017 Legacy Document

    On 2 to 5 July 2017, Edinburgh, Scotland, hosted the 33rd Passive and Low-Energy Architecture (PLEA) conference. Cresa’s Kay Saville-Smith and Dr Bev James from the BBHTC Understanding and Re-tooling the Architecture and Logistics of Decision-making research programme presented a paper on Resilience, Ageing, and Adapting to Change. The pair writes that an ageing population coupled with environmental sustainability are two of the biggest challenges facing societies today. “Architecture and urban design are pivotal factors in the challenge of aging well."

    Building more houses does not make them affordable

    Professor Laurence Murphy says relying on simply building more houses is not an effective pathway to generating affordable housing as the market is very good at producing market prices. He discusses the challenges of Special Housing Areas with Grant Walker on NBR Radio.

    How we can build the kind of housing we want and need

    If New Zealand is ever to produce enough affordable housing to meet the needs of low and middle income earners, such as service workers, teachers and nurses, it must take action using positive planning and investment.

    Māori solutions to future proof housing

    Jessica Hutchings, the director Māori on the building better homes national science challenge, spoke with Radio Waatea, she says her team has been looking at how to create culturally fit-for-purpose housing both in the regions and the cities where space is short.

    She says housing is more than bedrooms, a roof and a place to put the car. "We talk about a housing shortage. We talk about whānau Māori being life long renters. But also in the Challenge we are really interested in supporting the well being of whānau into houses so it is not just about building houses," Dr Hutchings says.

    Mātauranga Māori provides pathway to future-proof housing

    New research conducted by Ko ngā wā kāinga hei whakamāhorahora - Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities (BBHTC) National Science Challenge - has uncovered traditional approaches to housing that stand up to climate change and strengthen communities.

    Building Research Capacity in Communities

    The urban environment has profound effects on people lives, yet those people often have little ability to influence that environment, either because public participation is limited to ‘consultation’ – feedback rather than ideation – or people find the process alienating. The research programme ‘Urban Narrative’ offers the potential to transform urban governance and decision-making to a model that encourages and values public participation. By supporting participation, Urban Narrative re-positions cities as ‘listening organisations’ that create authentic conversations and two-way relationships that gather, and act upon, local knowledge, ideas and aspirations. Read Urban Narrative's Community Workshop Feedback Report out now.
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