Contestable Research Projects

Co-designing with children

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.

The Team

Karen Witten, Emerald McPhee, Frith Walker, Claire Stewart

Understanding place

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.

The Team

Donald Matheson, Chris Thompson, Ben Adams, Paul Miller

He kainga pai rawa: A really good home

This project offers a potentially transformative approach to documenting in depth, one model of reducing the inequities in housing, which in turn improves health and wellbeing outcomes for kaumātua. The project is transformative in that it will highlight the organisational processes, skills, and knowledge that Māori organisations and organising bring to such successful housing models. 

The anticipated identification and sharing of factors critical to the success of Moa Cres Kaumātua Village, has the potential to impact Māori organisations based in regional and larger cities to develop Māori, in collaboration with a range of other parties, to develop culturally responsive housing for kaumātua.  The development of a potential Best Practice tool, will make this sharing easier than without, and the development of a  new research agenda  will investigate how translate the successful organising and residential components of Moa Cres will help other Māori organisations wanting to provide secure, healthy and affordable homes for kaumātua and/or whanau, in the adoption process.

The Team

Rangimahora Reddy, Sophie Nock, Kirsten Johnston

Auckland's housing supply challenge:

A Unitec response to the Mayoral Housing Taskforce Report

The Research team will supply Think Pieces on pre-defined topics as follows: 1. A response to the recommended "tactical intervention of the Mayoral Housing TaskforceReport; 2. + 3. Responses to one of the recommended "strategic interventions" of the above report; 4. Vision Matauranga  - synergies between this project and 'Kainga Tahi Kainga Rua'.

The Team

Roger Birchmore

Revitalising the production of affordable homes to provide for successful, engaged and healthy lives

This research focuses on two critical and strategic questions: What is the demand for and value embedded in a social investment in low-cost new builds? And, how can a building industry which has been engrossed with producing housing in the upper quartiles of value be re-oriented to delivering low-cost housing?

The Team

Kay Saville-Smith, Ganesh Nana, Charles Waldegrave, Andrew Sporle, Fiona Cram, Bev James, Fiona Stokes, Chris Cunningham, Taimalieutu Kiwi Tamasese, Larry Murphy, Michael Rehm, Ian Mitchell

Autonomous vehicles and urban environments: Implications for wellbeing in an aging society

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?

The Team

Angela Curl, Rita Dionosio, Amy Fletcher, Annabel Ahuriri-Driscoll, Bob Frame

Mauri ora and urban wellbeing

Impact will occur at the local community level through engagement with members of the Manukau community through an ongoing co-creative engagement with local AUT students in design charrettes and studios. With our team’s expertise in Citizen Science engagement we will develop a community-based participation that builds local capacity and tools for citizen-led analysis. Research (Kinney, 2000) shows the transformative potential for co-creation or community participation in live projects in one’s community – particularly in terms of a sense of agency in the face of wicked problems. Empowering community residents can also contribute to sustainability because when the researchers step away, the citizen scientists can continue. In terms of health inequalities, Māori and Pacific children and adults suffer disproportionally with higher rates for most health conditions. In addition, living in neighbourhoods of deprivation is directly associated with the poorer health conditions. This project will also provide innovative and workable solutions to New Zealand’s health challenges in the short-to-medium term. For example, citizens may see the need for particular infrastructure development, therefore, they may voluntarily contribute by actively engaging in major fund raising to supplement current budgets.

Collaborations with local council groups (Panuku and Southern Initiative)  facilitate evidence-based design and research-led policy decisions. In response to their request we have already provided Panuku with some research around wellbeing and green infrastructures.

International impact will occur through published aspects of the research (written and visualised) in relation to global discourses around urban science, climate-change research and indigenous knowledge

The Team

Amanda Yates, Erica Hinckson, Charles Walker, Nirmal Nair

Delivering urban wellbeing

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.

The Team

Kelly Dombrowski, David Conradson, Stephen Healy

Activating water sensitive urban design for healthy resilient communities

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.

More information

For more information see the project website at Landcare Research

The Team

Robyn Simcock

Novel wastewater processing

The proposed research will deliver a think piece, describing some potential future states for wastewater infrastructure arising from increasingly available novel technologies.  By consolidating leading-edge thinking, the work will provide a platform from which others (researchers, planners, regulators) can view the opportunities that arise in transition towards a circular economy and impacts on urban communities.

In posing a long-horizon vision, we do not make any assumptions about grand stepchange demands for our cities in the near, or even mid-term. Thus, a significant part of the exercise, will explore potential for movement toward the vision – what kind of changes might occur (or need to occur) in these shorter term horizons, and what are the societal impacts. 

For example, we can imagine significant transformational change in small-scale treatment systems for black-water (toilet waste), where complete liquefication occurs on-site – delivering an aqueous phase into sewers. Immediate effects could be described in sewer demands, giving scope for small bore sewer pipes but in turn transforming the demands of centralised wastewater treatment systems. Resource recovery and energy neutrality may be given greater impetus as a result. Such an opportunity is certainly imaginable for a shorter term horizon, and can be seen as a step-towards the longer term vision.

A fully distributed circular economy within a longer time horizon will make redundant expensive end-of-pipe treatment plants. Recycle of nutrients and water locally would facilitate urban farms, enabling the growth of urban forests and food sources.

The Team

Daniel Gapes, Doug Gaunt, Paul Bennett, Paola Leardini

Urban narrative

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. As a two-phase work 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.

Outcomes will include:
• Methodology and tools to co-create urban design briefs that specify infrastructure development and better supports how people want to live.
• More empowered, socially connected communities, where people are working collaboratively with their local government to hear their voices; community members can see their influence on their neighbourhood.
• More liveable suburbs, towns and cities for all ages, sizes, abilities, and ethnicities that mitigate challenges and build upon assets.
The impacts:
New Zealand to be recognised as a leader in research and innovation that enables participatory design processes to be ‘business as usual’ for urban design. Likewise, we are recognised for our plethora of citizen partnerships, and for our ability to tangibly honour our distinctive people and culture.
• Residents experience greater wellbeing because they feel accepted and valued, and their environment supports their needs and aspirations.
• Areas undergoing revitalisation enjoy improved perceptions of liveability by residents and other citizens with decreased stigma or negativity.

The Team

Mark Dyer, Shaoqun Wu, Kate Mackness, Lisa Early, Filippo Corsini, Belinda Sleight, Cecile Paris

Give us space

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.

The Team

Manfredo Manfredini, Rebecca Kiddle

Producing affordable housing

This research will fill a crucial gap that presently exists in our knowledge about how we should go about providing quality, affordable homes.  The impacts of this research could lead to transformational change in the domain of affordable housing policy.  Because of the importance of healthy affordable housing to the development of strong, stable communities that are hospitable, productive and protective, this research addresses an issue that is fundamental to achieving both the vision and mission of the Challenge.  In addition to its direct and timely policy relevance, the proposed research will strengthen connections between four of the Challenge SRAs, and will further develop collaborative relationships between researchers, policy makers, and housing providers.  These impacts will enrich and diversify the housing research community locally, increasing our capacity for ground-breaking and innovative co-created research. Our proposed research has already received strong support from end-users across the country, and this proposal has been developed in collaboration with them.  This collaborative approach will be employed throughout the research and reporting process to ensure ongoing alignment with the needs and aspirations of stakeholders.  Finally, this research will contribute to the development of research leadership skills for an emerging researcher, thereby advancing the future capacity of local housing research.

The Team

Patricia Austin, Emma Ferguson, Nicole Gurran, Lena Henry, Simon Opit

Transdisciplinary resilience assessment

Previous work by the authors has identified a need to create a common framework across the many disciplines involved in resilience research to create an effective, integrated approach to assessing resilience and avoiding the creation of silos. This project will enable the creation of an integrated, multidisciplinary method for assessing the future resilience of urban developments by bringing together physical and social scientists with economists to address the different spatial and temporal scales, languages, concepts and world views inherent in urban systems research.

The Team

Guy Coulson, Jonathan Moores, Karen Witten, Robin Kearns, Chris Batstone, Anaru Waa

Consenting automation

Nextspace has previously produced a proof of concept for Auckland Council showcasing its latest data linking toolset (working title: Bruce).   Nextspace is now seeking to build on the success of this PoC and has identified automated consent processing as one suitable problem/solution fit for Bruce as well as being a good product/market fit.    Nextspace are of the opinion that the convergence of critical need (pressure on consent timeframes and spotlight on the costs of compliance) and availability of relevant technology suggest the time is right to create automated consenting.

Nextspace has set out a three-stage process towards full e-consenting and identified the relevant partners required to advance the project.   The project builds on the work already completed for the PoC referred to above.

Effective e-consenting has a number of significant benefits for stakeholders (public, consent authorities, consultants etc.) over current processes, notably:  
• The smart design and LoD that is created at the architectural/design stage can be captured in detail as part of the consent processing – resulting in much improved quality data for the consenting authority – rather than being lost in the process as currently occurs
• Less time and fewer mistakes, with consenting staff able to focus on value add over manual checking
• By deconstructing the data through the process using Bruce, the consenting authority creates genuinely meaningful packets of data that can be deployed in a range of situations by the authority. Being beholden to complex CAD or GIS environments becomes unnecessary and staff are able to create simple fit for purpose UIs to get the job done. Training times are reduced to hours, not weeks.

Ultimately consents can be processed faster, more accurately, and more effectively, and at the same time the consenting authority is provided with deconstructed data for use throughout its organisation.

The Team

Mark Thomas, Alex Gnum, Aaron Robinson, Johannes Dimyadi

Harnessing the hinterland

This proposed study is driven by the identified need to focus academic and policy attention of one of the most neglected dimensions of New Zealand society and economy — namely the rural areas and the small towns within them. These places form the backbone of the export economy and are home to some 22% of the national population, yet there is a poor understanding of how these places differ, the challenges which they face, whether they are able to regenerate and respond to social and economic change and the specific needs of key, often marginalised groups — i.e. women and Mäori. Media attention has dramatized the fate of so-called 'zombie' towns and the seemingly bleak future of rural New Zealand. Our preliminary demographic analysis contradicts some of these negative views and while many small towns and rural areas are losing people, many others are in fact growing. Simultaneously throughout the country there are a range of significant local examples of local development and regeneration from which key lessons for the country can be derived. The study seeks to co-create knowledge with local stakeholder groups to better inform policy makers of local development challenges and opportunities. The research will be informed by key debates in international literature and the research will be influenced by detailed desktop analysis of statistical — demographic, social and economic trends taking place in rural and small town New Zealand. While the desktop research will provide a national overview, detailed field work will be undertaken in three fregions' in the country: West Coast, Southland/Clutha and Taranaki and within each one small town will be a specific point of attention, particular with regard to local responses to economic and social change, and where relevant, local regeneration endeavours. A reference group representing a range of institutions, community groups, development agencies and NGOs will help guide the study.

The Team

Etienne Nel, Anne Pomeroy

Further information

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