Transforming Cities was underpinned by a broad research agenda with three main themes:

  • Understanding and managing change in urban environments
  • Transformations in space and place for sustainable futures
  • Imagining and developing mechanisms/interventions for the creation of liveable cities

Transforming Cities led research into vital questions about urban change and future challenges for New Zealand cities and towns. By bringing together researchers, practitioners and policy makers from The University of Auckland and allied organisations across New Zealand and internationally, we combined different perspectives and expertise to create new knowledge and inform urban decision-making. 

Housing Research Programme


Transforming Cities identified a specific priority in the area of housing research.

It is critical that we increase our understanding of housing both at the level of individual dwellings, including the lived experience of the occupants, and also the provision of housing to wider communities. We investigate the connections between houses, neighbourhoods and the wider social, cultural, economic and environmental systems operating within cities and towns.

Our housing research interests and expertise include:

  • housing demand and supply
  • the physical and environmental performance of houses and urban developments
  • housing and community resilience

We connected researchers from across the University of Auckland who have an interest in this research theme and actively engage with other agencies working in this area. Dr Penny Lysnar coordinated this programme on behalf of Transforming Cities.

Researchers at University of Auckland have considerable expertise in housing research. Please contact Melanie Milicich, Research Liaison and Communications Coordinator, Urban Research Network, for further information.


Internal seed funding round centred on urban research

In 2013 a funding round resulted in the allocation of seed funding to develop twelve projects. This round was open to all University of Auckland staff working in the areas of urban social research, housing research, and urban research associated with the Worldwide Universities Network global challenges. The objective of the round was to seed fund research projects with the potential for connection and relevance to external agencies.   

This funding round supported the research development of the following projects:

  • Children in Rental Housing: examining the relationship between rental housing and children’s health and wellbeing
  • edFab: Eco Digital Fabrication. Using new technology to design, build and retrofit high-quality affordable housing
  • Meeting the housing needs of vulnerable groups in New Zealand
  • Urban food networks in Auckland
  • The liveable university
  • Pacific climate change migration: policy and planning responses within Australia and New Zealand
  • Urban waterfront regeneration, morphological processes and performance-based planning: strengthening research and practice
  • New geographies of work – scoping Auckland’s functional labour market areas
  • Imagining water sustainability
  • Seeing the wood for the trees: exploring variability in the valuing of trees and biodiversity in a transforming Auckland
  • The urban/digital nexus: participation, belonging and social media in Auckland
  • Establishing the ways public art can achieve transformative social outcomes in New Zealand Cities

Associated Research Projects

Finding the Best Fit: Housing, Downsizing and Older People in a Changing Society

As a result of Transforming Cities' facilitative work, Professor Larry Murphy and Dr Michael Rehm of the University's Department of Property collaborated with the Centre for Research, Evaluation and Social Assessment (CRESA) in a successful bid to MBIE. Their project 'Finding the Best Fit: Housing, Downsizing and Older People in a Changing Society'. The total funding for the project is $1,625,156 over three years.  

For more information about this project please see the programme's website.

The future of timber: cross-laminated multi-storey timber buildings

Principal Investigator: John Chapman, School of Architecture and Planning is working on 'The future of timber: cross-laminated multi-storey timber buildings'. Transforming Cities funded John Chapman in 2013 to visit academic and industry partners in North America, which strongly supported the ongoing development of this work. John is passionate about the potential for this innovative way of working with timber framing in multi-story settings and is exploring funding options for further research. Please contact John if you are interested in these developments.

Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ) Scholarship

A BRANZ Building Research Postgraduate (PhD) Scholarship Award has been secured ($75,000 over three years), linked to a research project seed funded by Transforming Cities in 2013; 'ed-Fab: Eco Digital Fabrication ( Using new technology to design, build and retrofit high-quality affordable housing'.

Previously Funded Projects

To date, two rounds of internal funding have resulted in nine research projects, involving researchers from seven faculties. These researchers bring a diversity of disciplinary expertise, including: planning, architecture, geography, property, environmental health, public health, management and international business, leadership, economics, sociology, psychology, Asian studies, social history, transport economics, civil, electrical, computer and environmental engineering, biological science, dance, education and operations research.

The 2011 funding round supported the following five projects:

  • A critical evaluation of housing intensification strategies and urban growth policies in Auckland
  • Auckland’s solar renewable energy potential: An innovation for a sustainable city
  • Water in the sustainable city: An art-science-education collaboration for Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland
  • Transforming Auckland’s transportation system into a resilient, environmentally-friendly and health-enhancing system with a spatial decision support system
  • The greening of Auckland

More about the 2011 projects ...

The 2010 funding round supported four projects:

  • Active transport to reduce carbon emissions in Auckland: Health effects, equity, barriers and facilitators
  • Anchor organisations, sustainability and new forms of leadership in transforming Auckland
  • The place of diverse ethnic communities and business innovation in transforming Auckland
  • Transforming Auckland into a bicycle-friendly city: Understanding factors influencing choices of cyclists and potential cyclists

More about the 2010 projects ...