Autonomous vehicles and urban environments | Co-designing with children | Delivering urban wellbeing | Give us space | Mauri ora and urban wellbeing | Shaping Place: Future Neighbourhoods | Understanding place | Water Sensitive Urban Design
How do our urban environments impact on our health and wellbeing? How do we make them better? This research programme area looks at ways New Zealand’s urban environments can deliver wellbeing. Liveable and well-designed neighbourhoods, including houses, benefit their inhabitants. These also contribute to successful towns and cities.
Researchers will investigate the complex factors involved in urban design, especially in relation to New Zealand cities, they will be examining a myriad of issues and ideas such as how both the physical and social structure of neighbourhoods are critical to their success; how urban communities are using farming and gardening to promote food security, social inclusion, and wellbeing; how communities can improve their well-being through better access and understanding of key semi-public open space; what are the elements of transformative community enterprises; and the environmental and social costs of conventional approaches to urban development, and how Water Sensitive Urban Design can reduce maintenance costs and produce healthier communities and cities.
Urban Wellbeing Research Projects
Liveable and well-designed neighbourhoods, including houses, benefit their inhabitants. These also contribute to successful towns and cities. In other words, both the physical and social structure of neighbourhoods are critical to their success.
This research will focus on the larger cities - home to around half of all New Zealanders. It will lead to an understanding of the principles and processes that create more successful neighbourhoods.
One way it will do this is by investigating the complex factors involved in urban design, especially in relation to New Zealand cities. This will improve future urban environments through better planning and better integrating affordable housing in future communities.
The Shaping Place: Future Neighbourhoods programme includes a multitude of research projects around higher and medium density living, urban design, using virtual reality in urban design, and Te Aranga Māori Design Principles.
Errol Haarhoff, Ella Henry, Karen Witten, Suzanne Vallance, Marc Aurel-Schnabel, Patricia Austin, Lee Beattie, Paola Boarin, Robin Kearns, Mohsen Mohammadzadeh, Emma Ferguson, Hirini Matunga, Andreas Wesner, David Conradson, Rebecca Kiddle, Wokje Abrahamse, Jacqueline Paul
Hobsonville medium density development. Photo: Errol Haarhoff.
Two public space co-design case studies with children will be conducted in collaboration with Panaku and Auckland City Council. The research will establish the 'do-ability' and desirability of engaging children in participatory design in different socio-economic neighbourhoods and development contexts; identify the challenges of integrating children's particiaption into routine planning processes; and draw on the knowledge gained to develop a participatiopn 'tool kit'/online digitial resource to give urban designers/planners the skills and confidence to engage with children in public realm development projects.
21 May 2019: See the "read more" link below for an article in Architecture Now about this research programme.
2 March 2020: Engaging children in public space design: Tips for designers.
Karen Witten, Emerald McPhee, Penelope Carroll
The project's general goal is to develop innovative, scalable tools to make manawhenua and residents' latent meanings of the natural environment available to assist urban regeneration. Its specific goal is to develop a structured database and web interface in order to present and gather micro-level cultural data about the Avon Otakaro corridor in Christchurch.
15 August 2019: The Red Zone Stories App is now live and downloadable from Google Play and The App Store. With the app, a user can record their stories via text, photograph, video, etc. for an interactive map on the redzonestories.nz website. For more information see the Red Zone Stories website. There are already many photos and videos available on the map, showing what the red zone now means to people. This information helps researchers record the many different ways local residents and manawhenua respond to this place. It will also help urban planners understand what parts of the red zone are important to people and why. The research is independent from Regenerate Christchurch, but has been developed in consultation with them.
Donald Matheson, Chris Thompson, Ben Adams, Paul Miller
Aerial image of Christchurch. Photo: NZ Defence Force.
We will develop scenarios in conjunction with government departments, based on existing Ministry of Transport scenarios, and covering a range of time periods and settlement characteristics. We will critically review scenarios alongside existing policy documents and knowledge on settlement characteristics, wellbeing and ageing in place to produce a 'think piece' report.
Stage one partially addresses the following research questions:
1. What are credible scenarios for autonomous vehicle adoption?
2. How might settlement characteristics change under each of those scenarios?
3. What might be the implications of scenarios and settlement changes for wellbeing in an ageing population?
Helen Fitt, Angela Curl, Rita Dionosio, Amy Fletcher, Annabel Ahuriri-Driscoll, Bob Frame
Photo reproduced with permission from ohmio Automotion Ltd/HMI Technologies.
Increasingly, wellbeing registers are influencing national, regional, and urban governance, policy, and design with potentially transformative effects on how we think and do urbanism. This is important in an era of climate chaos and biodiversity failures, loneliness, obesity epidemics, and housing crises – the age of the Anthropocene summatively. While many wellbeing frameworks remain largely human-centric, in this project we ask: how might a more holistic wellbeing concept of mauri-ora as human and more-than-human wellbeing enable transformations in urban analysis, policy, and actions? Further, how might a mauri-ora urban science data tool catalyse innovations in city wellbeing?
We emphasise social and ecological connection as key urban factors for wellbeing in built environments, landscape infrastructures, and social systems. Engagement and activation processes as small-scale tactical interventions – in edible urban landscapes, and in wellbeing science communication, for example – are key methods by which we explore urban wellbeing place-making. Connecting through collaboration is also a central method, with an aim to provide tools (guidelines, data tools, processes) that improve civic–public partnerships for improved urban mauri-ora as life-field vitality.
28 May 2019: The Mauri ora and urban wellbeing team have run a series of workshops in libraries in Auckland over the April 2019 school holidays. Read about their biodiversity and urban wellbeing workshop.
Amanda Yates, Erica Hinckson, Monique Jansen, Rebecca Kiddle, Nirmal Nair, James Renwick, Charles Walker, Gayle Souter-Brown
Maungawhau. Photo: Amanda Yates.
To conduct research into a community enterprise in Christchurch, for the purpose of documenting the transformative social and environmental outcomes in order to enable adaption and replication elsewhere.
1. Increase understanding of a transformative community enterprise. Findings of research summarised in report and multimedia outputs.
2. Increase visibility of transformative community enterprise and its land use requirements in urban environments. Findings disseminated through NZ social media and local government contexts.
3. Increase ability of community enterprises to assess the wellbeing return on their investments in urban common spaces. Developed assessment methodology based on the Community Economy Return on Investment (CEROI) tool.By examining the urban farm and mental health care aspects of Cultivate's work, the proposed research will enable us to assess the potential contribution of social and community enterprises to urban wellbeing both within Christchurch and across other cities in New Zealand.
December 2020: Caring labour: redistributing care work.
Kelly Dombrowski, Gradon Diprose, David Conradson, Stephen Healy, Alison Watkins
This research will increase awareness of the environmental and social costs of conventional approaches to urban development, and identify features of Water Sensitive Urban Design that reduce maintenance costs, to help justify implementation of WSUD in New Zealand to underpin healthier communities and cities. Water sensitive urban design creates living (green) infrastructure along streets, and around buildings which improves community health by mitigating air and water pollutants, physically protecting residents (from traffic, wind and UV irradiation) and supporting daily connection with nature. WSUD reduces energy consumed in heating and cooling houses by modifying microenvironments, reduces risk of flooding and stream erosion, and avoids pollution events that kill freshwater animals and plants. WSUD can also reduce construction costs to developers and avoid expensive upgrades to wastewater networks.
September 2019: Te Ao Māori and Water Sensitive Urban Design.
Robyn Simcock, Jonathan Moores, Sue Ira, Chris Batstone
Christchurch roadside raingarden and densely planted trees provide beauty, shade, and WSUD. Photo: Robyn Simcock, Landcare Research.
Through a process of co-creation, this project will support communities to improve their well-being through better access and understanding of key semi-public open space. Benefits of the research are directed to end-users in their communities, organisations (grassroots, civic and private) and the scientific community. The work contributes to the achievement of the objectives of local and central government (e.g. Department of Internal Affairs, Auckland Council and Local Boards) and communities. Its applied research is aligned with that of Auckland Council’s Research and Evaluation Unit and Geospatial Unit. Dissemination at the local level will be supported by Local Boards and community groups. The pilot digital toolset will have implementation potential in other centres throughout Aotearoa New Zealand. The project contributes to Sustainable Development Goal 11 - Cities and the associated UN-New Urban Agenda, where public spaces are considered crucial for people’s well-being. It is also expected that the research will lead to further collaborative work and action-based research between the Universities and local communities.
December 2019: Urban commons and the right to the city.
December 2019: Envisioning atmospheres of spectacle and activism.
Manfredo Manfredini, Dory Reeves, Rebecca Kiddle
Civic Centre development, Lower Hutt. Photo: Louise Thomas.