Kia ora tātou,
When Guy Marriage asked if I would write the foreword to Medium, I did take a moment to reflect on my own experiences with medium density housing. Having lived in it, made plans and policies for it, prepared and assessed development applications for it, advised political decision makers and developers about it, calculated the infrastructure requirements and development contributions for it, encouraged product manufacturers to improve the technical detailing of products used in it and prepared many submissions advocating for an improvement in the quality of the architecture and the communities it supports, I soon realised I’d spent a lot of time in and around the content of Medium.
Firstly, thank you Guy for finally bringing to life Medium, a book long overdue in Aotearoa New Zealand Some may think that a “technical design guide for creating better medium density housing in Aotearoa New Zealand” is aimed at a very specific audience. I would say to the contrary. Medium is an essential read for anyone interested in the future of housing in Aotearoa – be they politicians, policy or planning officials, professional services providers, technical specialists, developers, building consenting officials, product manufacturers, architects and designers, students of construction, or builders and specialist trades.
Medium density housing must play a bigger part in our future – for the health and wellbeing of our communities and for our sustainable future on this planet. I’m not for a moment suggesting this will be an easy embracing of ideas or an uncomplicated journey. There are parts of Aotearoa New Zealand that carry the scars of previous experiments in this area. Whilst some medium density housing projects of the past have surprised (even delighted) and stood the test of time, others have been woefully inadequate and irresponsible. There are a range of reasons for this, including policy shortcomings, the inadequacy of the Building Code and a lack of experience and technical knowledge among those involved in medium density projects. Thankfully we’ve also seen some extraordinary medium density housing outcomes for people and communities as evidenced in case studies in Built, Part 4.
Medium, as a technical design guide, offers an opportunity to share and upskill those involved in these projects. Well-designed medium density and urban environments shouldn’t be on anybody’s wish list; they should be a reasonable expectation of all New Zealanders. With the addition of new funding and financing tools, build to rent, and shared equity schemes, there is a generational opportunity for medium density housing to have a profound and positive impact on the housing crisis (which is not unique to New Zealand, I might add). For this to happen, books like Medium, which generously share experience and expertise, and document technical design guidance, must be brought to life as Guy has admirably done – and be continuously updated.
With the titles of Tall and Medium ticked off, I am hoping Guy can now turn his attention to his next title, Corner?
Ngā mihi mō ngā tau kei mua i te aroaro,
Teena Hale Pennington
Te Kāhui Whaihanga New Zealand Institute of Architects