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New Zealand Institute of Architects









Finalist – Joseph Wellwood

Joseph Wellwood from Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington School of Architecture, was a finalist in the 2019 NZIA Resene Student Design Awards for his project, 'Vulnerable Territories: The Perpetually Shifting Edge'.

Project description

This thesis explores an adaptive approach to continued coastal habitation in response to hazards such as sea level rise and erosion. It explores both the natural issues of New Zealand’s coastline and the human issue of how we build in coastal regions. It is sited in Haumoana, Hawkes Bay, home to the fastest deteriorating coastline in New Zealand,where the community is already being forced to abandon homes and retreat inland. Continued habitation is explored through the proposed potential for a ‘stilted’ community near the waterfront. By raising buildings, this strategy separates dwellings from natural hazards but still allows nature to retain its dynamics.


The thesis is a very timely response to a specific incidence of an increasingly urgent problem: the existential threat posed to coastal communities by sea-level rise induced by climate change. In a project that exhibits commendable ambition, and benefits from well-directed research into typological precedents, Joseph has produced sympathetic responses to the immediate environmental and social challenges facing the Hawkes Bay community of Haumoana. The scheme uses a coherent architectural language and demonstrates a sensitive appreciation of appropriate building scale.

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