Seed Funded Research Projects 2013

Transforming Cities provided seed funding for twelve groups to develop research collaborations focussed on urban social research, housing research, and urban research associated with the Worldwide Universities Network global challenges. Most of this work is on-going.

Children in Rental Housing: examining the relationship between rental housing and children’s health and wellbeing


Principal Investigator: Professor Julie Park (Anthropology)
Dr Kathryn Scott (Anthropology)
Patricia Laing (Housing NZ)

This project develops a programme of research on the relationships between rental housing and children’s health and wellbeing. Children’s housing experiences in social and private rental housing are not well understood. We will explore the health effects of the quality of housing and the drivers for household crowding to inform policies related to rental housing.

The project will commence with the preparation of reports on children’s housing experiences in South Auckland, Porirua and Christchurch, based on data from Housing NZ’s ‘Housing Pathways’ longitudinal study. This will inform the development of a wider research programme on children in rental housing for which external funding will be sought. The project creates a new partnership between Housing NZ and academic staff in three faculties of the University of Auckland.

For further information please contact Julie Park

Children and Housing Literature Review

edFab: Eco Digital Fabrication. Using new technology to design, build and retrofit high-quality affordable housing

Principal Investigator: Dr Dermott McMeel (Architecture and Planning)
Dr Paola Leardini (Architecture and Planning)
Dr Manfredo Manfredini (Architecture and Planning)
Dr John Chapman (Architecture and Planning)
Dr Gary Raftery (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

The goal of this research is to investigate the potential of high value manufacturing technologies (e.g., CNC routers, 3D printers) to develop new techniques for 'design to delivery' of new buildings and the renovation and adaptation of existing buildings. We will advance research by building teams and projects around three specific objectives:

  • Improving liveability:
    Low and inconsistent quality buildings are associated with health and wellbeing problems. Manufacturing technologies are proven to deliver high quality products and repeat them consistently but how can they be used to deliver both high quality and unique buildings?
  • Improving sustainability:
    How can high quality and accurate automated fabrication deliver higher building performance regarding energy efficiency, material durability and earthquake resilience?
  • Improving productivity:
    Automated fabrication can deliver low-cost kits. How can this method harness social capital and emerging sharing and DIY phenomenon? How will it redefine the urban environment and the design to delivery process?

Find out more about this project

For further information please contact Dermott McMeel

Meeting the housing needs of vulnerable groups in New Zealand

Principal Investigators: Dr Alice Mills (Sociology), Dr Katey Thom (Centre for Mental Health Research, School of Nursing) and Dr Claire Meehan
Dr Jacquie Kidd (School of Nursing)
Dr David Newcombe (Centre for Addiction Studies)
Dr Deborah Widdowson (Education)

This seeding project will facilitate a think-tank on housing for vulnerable populations in New Zealand. It will bring together an interdisciplinary network of interested stakeholders to workshop what provision currently exists for vulnerable groups, identify examples of best-practice approaches, and areas in need of further research.

The research involves cross-Faculty collaboration between the Centre for Mental Health Research, the Centre for Addictions Research and the Centre for Child and Family Research. The workshops will enable nation-wide networking on the topic and assist the University-based team to identify future studies grounded in the needs of vulnerable populations.

For further information please contact Alice Mills

Urban food networks in Auckland

Principal Investigator: Dr Ann E. Bartos (School of Environment)
Prof John Morgan (Education)

Cities around the world are responding to large-scale shifts in food politics. While modern cities are regarded as places where most food consumption occurs, cities are increasingly sites where new practices of food politics are enacted. From the development of Food Policy Councils, to the flourishing community garden movements, these new food politics are rooted in social, ethical, and environmental concerns resulting from a resistance to the global agricultural model of food production and consumption. There is a global interest in understanding, developing, and extending these alternative food networks. Within Auckland, alternative food networks are beginning to become established through Council and local grassroots initiatives. This project aims to establish a network of researchers and practitioners who are involved in both the investigation and production of alternatives to global agriculture. We will be hosting workshops to build these networks in an effort to establish Auckland as a case study for further research into alternatives to global agriculture, the possibilities of urban agriculture, and Auckland’s food futures.

For further information please contact Annie Bartos

The liveable university

Principal Investigator: Dr Stephen Turner (English)
Dr Sean Sturm (CLeAR)
Dr Kirsten Locke (Education)
Assoc Prof Niki Harre (Psychology)

This project investigates the university as a microcosm, test case and demonstration of a liveable city (Universitas 21 Statement on Sustainability). In the context of Auckland City’s Learning Quarter and Auckland Plans, we consider the university’s potential to be socially responsible, pro-creative and sustainable, and thus liveable. Our working assumption is that engagement, equity and access are prerequisite to the university and must be reflected in its form as much as in its processes. Liveability thus addresses the university as ecology, that is, as an intelligent system that works – or ought to work – for the flourishing of people and the nourishing of place. We have three goals in mind:

  • to build relationships with institutes and individuals concerned with sustainable urban environments elsewhere;
  • to develop workshops and an interactive exhibition/symposium that engage the university community (staff, students, campus workers, alumni and public) in games of social value; and
  • to construct research applications to local and international funding agencies to further develop the idea of the liveable university.

For further information please contact Stephen Turner

Pacific climate change migration: policy and planning responses within Australia and New Zealand

Principal Investigators: Dr Anita Lacey (Political Studies) and Professor Dory Reeves (Planning)

This project aims to examine what is unique about Pacific climate change migrants; what are the key gender issues faced; and, how planning and policy should respond accordingly. Issues of social infrastructure and housing, land and livelihoods, traditional and urban food sources, citizenship and sovereignty, and gender, will be of focus. There is currently a lack of knowledge about how host countries and cities can respond to climate migrants and what their specific needs are. We aim to develop policy and planning frameworks that address intersecting issues of gendered well-being, settlement and rights and create sustainable solutions to post-migration settlement. This research will form the basis of a future application to the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN).

For further information please contact Anita Lacey

Urban waterfront regeneration, morphological processes and performance-based planning: strengthening research and practice


Principal Investigator: Dr Kai Gu (Planning)
Dr Manfredo Manfredini (Architecture)

Urban waterfronts in most parts of the world are changing at an unprecedented pace. This project examines the morphological process and dynamics of the waterfront landscape in central Auckland. Drawing on the previous research and practice, it aims to contribute to the search for sustainable waterfront regeneration in the context of neo-liberal planning.

For further information, please contact Kai Gu

New Geographies of Work – scoping Auckland’s functional Labour Market Areas

Principal Investigator: Dr Kellie McNeill (Sociology)
Dr Patrick Barrett (Political Science and Public Policy, Waikato University)
Prof Sholeh Maani (Economics)

Although ‘the labour market’ is often conceptualised as a singular artefact, commute-to-work data provides an alternative basis for understanding the spatial relationships between where people live and work, and for thinking about the characteristics of labour markets in a plural sense. This project responds to the dynamism of contemporary urban labour markets in the Auckland region. It aims to generate new ways of thinking about the implementation of economic and social development initiatives utilising functional – rather than administrative – area boundaries.

The project aims to establish a highly skilled multi-disciplinary network of researchers from the University of Auckland and beyond. Interested practitioners should contact Kellie McNeill for further information.

Imagining water sustainability

Principal Investigator: Dr Alys Longley (Dance)
Sasha Matthewman (Education)
Dr Charlotte Sunde (Transforming Cities)
Dr Karen Fisher (School of Environment)

Imagining water sustainability will develop interactive art-science installations and workshops for schools, connecting important research in water sustainability to specific Auckland communities. It will also explore qualitative research methods framed by an ecological paradigm focused on biotic rights. Central to this research is interactivity between academics and community members through processes of listening, sharing, imagining, dialoguing and participating. In the long term we are aiming to develop innovative qualitative research methodologies and to tour the project to communities across Auckland.

For further information about this project please contact Alys Longley

Seeing the wood for the trees: Exploring variability in the valuing of trees and biodiversity in a transforming Auckland


Principal Investigator: Dr Margaret Stanley (School of Biological Sciences)
Prof Robin Kearns (School of Environment)
Alison Greenaway (Landcare)
Prof Karen Witten (Massey University, SHORE)
Penny Cliffin (Unitec)

This project brings together ecologists and social scientists in a research collaboration that will attempt to understand what value people place on trees and biodiversity in Auckland, given its impending transformation under the Unitary Plan. Specifically, we hope to understand why trees are protected to a greater extent in some suburbs of Auckland than others.

For further information, please contact Margaret Stanley

The urban/digital nexus: Participation, belonging and social media in Auckland

Principal Investigator: Dr Jay Marlowe (School of Counselling, Human Services and Social Work)
Dr Allen Bartley (School of Counselling, Human Services and Social Work)
Dr Francis Collins (School of Environment)
Dr Gerry Cotterell (COMPASS)

This mixed method project will explore the use of social media and other forms of information communication technologies by refugee and other diasporic communities who are at once both ‘connected/mobile and emplaced/embodied’. This information will be used to map and assess the extent to which digital participation and networking supports and enhances social participation and social cohesion in urban settings.

For further information,  please contact Jay Marlowe

Establishing the ways public art can achieve transformative social outcomes in New Zealand cities


Principal Investigator: Assoc Prof Derrick Cherrie (Elam, School of Fine Arts)
Dr Elizabeth Aitken-Rose (Architecture and Planning)
Assoc Prof Peter Shand (Fine Arts)
Jim Speers (Fine Arts)

For further information about this project please contact Derrick Cherrie