Homes and spaces news
Simon Wilson on the housing crisis: What governments did wrong
25 February 2020: A NZ Herald article (paywalled) by Simon Wilson features research by Building Better researcher Kay Saville-Smith.
"This is a story of collapse, all told in one remarkable graph.
"The graph was created by Kay Saville-Smith, a social scientist who specialises in housing. Saville-Smith knew there had been a long-term decline in the construction of low-cost housing. The Productivity Commission had already identified it. The purple line on her graph shows it. But she wanted to know why, so she pored through decades of raw data, looking for the cause.
“She found it,” writes Simon Wilson.
A PDF of the research behind the article can be found in our library section: Following the money - Understanding the building industry’s exit from affordable housing production
Building Better researcher Dr Kay Saville-Smith. Photo: Louise Thomas.
Rigour and rigour mortis? Planning, calculative rationality, and forces of stability and change
4 February 2020: Building Better researcher Iain White from the University of Waikato blogs about the influence of data. He examines the selection, application, and wider effects of ‘calculations’ in urban planning to better understand why, when we say we want urban areas to be more affordable and liveable, and we enjoy a stronger evidence base than ever before, were some of the outcomes deemed poor. The blog includes a link to Iain's recently published paper in the Urban Studies Online Journal.
A life together
6 January 2020: "It’s a way of living that is often mistaken for either a ‘hippy commune’ or a boarding house, but cohousing is slowly becoming a viable solution to New Zealand’s growing housing needs. It’s also a way of fighting the isolation and loneliness that is harming our collective wellbeing."
The Spinoff's Leonie Hayden interviews Building Better researcher James Berghan about his research on social mortgages and co-housing.
“The social mortgage component was how you can bring in a social element to housing, which means you have a contract with your neighbours and you have to put work into it but you get social benefits as well. It shifts housing from a financial asset to a community asset that everyone has a stake in,” says James.
Thom Gill (centre) and neighbours of Cohaus muck in at the site of their future home. Photo: Prue Fea, The SpinOff.
What is a social mortgage?
25 November 2019: The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand writes about BBHTC research by James Berghan. James examines the different ways the built environment can deliver housing based on the idea of a “social mortgage”.
With the release of New Zealand’s first Wellbeing budget in late May 2019, it’s more obvious than ever that the built environment needs to move towards planning models that deliver social and environmental sustainability.
Deeply invested in the places they live and wanting to ensure their property provides spaces for generations, communities are looking for the option of alternative developments that aren’t subject to the same commercial demands as the open market.
While every household has their own self-sustaining home or unit, they may have shared spaces, such as a communal garden, a shared playground or a full multi-purpose community building. Photo: UnSplash.
Dr Fiona Cram, MNZM
7 June 2019: BBHTC researcher Dr Fiona Cram was admitted as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in the Queen's Birthday Honours for services to Māori health and education. Fiona, Ngāti Pahauwera, is a member of the Kāinga Tahi, Kāinga Rua research team, as well as the Improving the architecture of decision-making team. She has been involved in a multitude of housing research projects, including "The Architecture of Decision-Making: Uncovering the dynamics that inhibit us getting the housing we all say we want" and "Building the Future with Good Homes for the People".
Dr Fiona Cram, MNZM. Photo: Louise Thomas
Developers and financiers: impacts in the NZ housing market
10 April 2019: Counter to the theory that developers and financiers simply respond to market wide forces of supply and demand, new research from Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities researcher Dr Larry Murphy of the University of Auckland says that developers and financiers actively create and operationalise practices that govern acceptable profit margins, operational structures, and house prices. In addition, access to finance and the conditions under which finance is offered have profound impacts on residential development practices and processes.
Under construction. Photo Louise Thomas.
Functional housing for older people
11 March 2019: New Zealand has struggled to deliver new builds that are accessible to all ages and abilities. Now, a Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities research project is looking at ways to deliver affordable functional housing, particularly for older people.
The Building solutions for affordable, functional housing in ageing and changing communities project is a collaboration between CRESA, Massey University, Public Policy and Research, and BRANZ.
The team expects to deliver their first research findings by late 2019.
Auckland’s housing supply challenge
31 January 2019: According to future projections, Auckland’s population will reach two million in 2033. Since the city is already afflicted by a serious housing crisis, at the beginning of 2017 the newly elected Mayor Phil Goff set up a task force. A Building Better Homes Towns and Cities National Science Challenge think-piece commissioned from Unitec researcher Paola Trapani explores the role that designers should play in this field. Its ideological position is that the house cannot and should not be considered as a commodity on the free market; nor should focus solely be on bringing down prices by increasing the number of houses on offer. Over time, housing might evolve to being more about social (use) value than exchange value.
Several new reports are now available from the research programme Auckland's housing supply challenge: A Unitec response to the Mayoral Housing Taskforce Report. Please see our publications page for other titles.
Resilience and housing markets
5 November 2018: Research has found that some groups are inadvertently privileged in the housing market by existing resilience policy. Building Better’s Improving the architecture of decision-making Principal Investigator, Dr Iain White, and colleague Dr Graham Squires have published a report on resilience and housing markets in a top international journal, Land Use Policy. The report, Resilience and housing markets: Who is it really for?, examines how resilience theory and rhetoric relating to the economy and housing markets has been translated into policy and practice. The research includes a case study of Auckland, with a nationally dominant housing market and high unaffordability.
“By bringing these selectivities and limits to light we argue for a shift in focus away from an institutional frame to one with a deeper understanding of both the balance of an economy and the wider forces that create and reproduce housing markets.”
Renting for the over 65s
1 October 2018: Dr Kay Saville-Smith discusses the burgeoning renters sector on Radio New Zealand's Lately with Karyn Hay, predicting that in 20 years' time more than half of those over 65 will be renting - and even now many are turning to flatting.
Special Housing Areas: Spaces in Contention
14 August 2018: A new report by Building Better researcher Dr Bev James considers public consultation associated with the establishment of Special Housing Areas (SHAs) in the Western Bay of Plenty sub-region, how it affected decision-making about SHA developments, and what it tells us about people’s views of our homes, towns and cities.
Overall, 69 percent of the 603 submissions on SHA proposals were opposed, and the remainder were either supportive or neutral. Those opposed cited a range of perceived social and environmental impacts. Read the report for more details on public perceptions of SHAs.
Designing housing decision-support tools for resilient older people
8 August 2018: Our ageing populations make it critical that older people continue to live and participate in their communities. ‘Ageing in place’, rather than in residential care, is desired by older people themselves and promoted as policy in many countries. Its success, both as policy and practice, depends on housing. House performance, resilience, functionality and adaptability are all essential to maintaining independence. Three
Impact of covenants on affordable housing
7 August 2018:
See also: Land covenants in Auckland and their effect on urban development. Auckland Council technical report, 76pgs
19 July 2018: A great article, outlining the tiny house movement in New Zealand, in the July/August issue of the New Zealand Geographic.
Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities National Science Challenge gets a mention for research analysing the property titles registered in Auckland over the past three decades, and the part that covenants can play to restrict smaller, affordable housing at a time when New Zealand desperately needs it.
The figures are still being finalised, but researcher Dr Kay Saville-Smith says it looks like about 55 per cent of Auckland residential titles in 2017 had a covenant—compared with less than 10 per cent in 1980. Very often, those covenants mandate large dwellings, she says.
“The worst I’ve seen is a minimum of 245 square metres. You’ll hear a lot about how affordable housing is affected by planning regulations; that’s a typical public narrative. You don’t hear a lot about the use of covenants - anyone can put them on, but they’re very hard to get rid of.”
Three new publications available
18 July 2018: Three new publications are available from the team at Improving the architecture of decision-making. These are: Tenure insecurity and exclusion: older people in New Zealand’s rental market; Revitalising the production of lower value homes: Researching dynamics and outcomes; and Declining egalitarianism and the battle for affordable housing in New Zealand. All three papers were presented at the European Network of Housing Researchers Conference in Uppsala, Sweden, 27-29 June 2018.
Government Minister says elderly housing needs cannot be overlooked
18 July 2018: What is the future of housing for our elderly? Minister for Seniors Tracey Martin weighs in on the affordable housing debate. Stuff article which includes reference to a paper written by BBHTC's Dr Kay Saville-Smith and Dr Bev James, as part of a consultation process about the ageing population, highlighting how New Zealand's future older population will mostly live in rentals, as home ownership rates have continued to fall over the last 15 years.
Architecture of Decision-Making Principal Investigator Dr Kay Saville-Smith. Photo: Louise Thomas.
Unlocking transport innovation
15 June 2018: A working paper to understand the regulatory and decision-making logics, processes and practices that determine the street design solutions that become part of our built environment and transport infrastructure has recently been published by the Architecture of Decision-making research team. Report authors Simon Opit and Karen Witten consider a proposal to install a novel type of pedestrian crossing, as part of a neighbourhood intervention, to investigate the architecture of decision-making that influences our urban environments.
Dr Kay Saville-Smith receives NZ Order of Merit
5 June 2018: One of Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities lead researchers in the Architecture of Decision Making research programme, Dr Kay Saville-Smith, has been awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2018 Queen's Birthday Honours.
London solution to Kiwi housing crisis
28 May 2018: 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 non-commercial editorial, by Zoltan Gabor.
Vicious to Virtuous Homes and Cities in an Ageing New Zealand
8 May 2018: 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
2 May 2018: 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
29 March 2018: 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. Population ageing is inevitable and irrefutable. The resilience, sustainability and functionality of our dwellings and the built environment are key to realising the benefits of the longevity dividend, of living well, as well as long. Homes in particular not only reflect the social and economic conditions of their occupants, but can also dictate them. They ideally, can meet the everyday needs and preferences of older citizens and their lifestyles, and additionally provide crucial protection against extreme events and other hazards."
Building more houses does not make them affordable
21 March 2018: 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
20 March 2018: 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.
New Zealand's hidden homes
14 December 2017: New research offers practical, community-based solutions to New Zealand’s housing crisis by turning existing stock into far more affordable, fit-for-purpose homes.
A new report from the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities National Science Challenge shows around 12% of New Zealand’s housing stock is significantly under-utilised and many houses could be partitioned to deliver up to 180,000 new dwellings.
The ADU Potential report suggests that the Auckland region has a potential 45,000 partitionable dwellings. Meanwhile, at the other end of the scale, Marlborough has around 2,000 partitionable dwellings. These dwellings would not impinge on greenfield sites or unutilised vacant land. There is also opportunity to introduce other forms of accessory dwellings (ADUs).
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.
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.