Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities reveals research focus for the year ahead. Photo Louise Thomas.
Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities (BBHTC) – He Kāinga Whakamana Tangata, Whakamana Taiao – has announced the key themes of their research in the year ahead. Continuing to address New Zealand’s housing needs, the National Science Challenge is digging deeper into housing for our ageing population and how we can build spaces for generations. It is also investigating the delivery of more affordable, healthy homes and the development of attractive urban environments with smart, safe, walkable streets. Thriving regions are also at the forefront of upcoming research, identifying how we can plan and build homes, towns and cities that create strong communities.
“Through housing we develop our sense of place and identity,” says Challenge Director, Ruth Berry. “Our work over the past year has shown that New Zealanders need to be involved in shaping their communities.”
One recent example discovered by BBHTC researchers was in the town of Geraldine, which has an older population, but where the steps are too high for much of the town to safely get in and out of its shops.
“What’s really interesting is what does this mean for our ageing population?” explains Ruth. “Building Better’s research is honing in on understanding the drivers behind communities and how seemingly small decisions about our built environments can impact older people’s freedom, independence and wellbeing.”
Other areas of research the 100+ scientists involved in the Challenge continue to focus on includes how digital information feeds better urban planning and what can be done to address growing homelessness in our major cities. The upcoming research focus considers national and region-specific research, For example, in Hamilton the Challenge is helping an iwi-led charitable trust develop a best practice manual based on their successful age-friendly housing model.
The findings will be published in December so that other communities around New Zealand can adopt a similar approach.
Since BBHTC launched in May 2016, the Challenge has funded more than 100 research projects – from scientists across both public and private institutions – into New Zealand’s built environment.
“The goal of every piece of Building Better research is to find the connections and solutions we need to build our homes, towns and cities better,” explains Ruth. “We need to know our built environments will not only strengthen our communities and make them more resilient but also promote diversity. This research is vital for the future of New Zealand.”
Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities Background Notes
Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities (BBHTC) is one of 11 National Science Challenges, funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise (MBIE). BBHTC undertakes world-class research to shape New Zealand’s built environment and strengthen communities. The Challenge develops findings that will empower public, planners and policymakers with reliable information and new tools for fresh thinking and better decisions. The Challenge is discovering new pathways to address the long-standing housing challenges of our most disadvantaged and to support Māori into healthy homes.