Prime Minister (then Minister of Housing), Helen Clark in studio and the finished houses
In 1990, I was approached by senior staff at Housing New Zealand who asked if I would commit the Community Design Studio to an experimental housing project. The task was to design an affordable terraced house that moved beyond the generic Housing New Zealand models. The site for the experiment was a small lot in Ponsonby's Franklin Rd. The project ran for one semester and involved twelve undergraduate students in developing individual designs. The final design was an amalgam of the best qualities of each. The designs were reviewed and evaluated by the Minister of Housing, Helen Clark at the School of Architecture.
Sadly, the most innovative of the student ideas - to move beyond the Eurocentric model of the nuclear family and to design for larger social units - extended whanau or hapu, with shared facilities and common space was not taken up by Housing New Zealand. The idea was too advanced for its time and has more currency today, even with housing New Zealand.
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