|dc.description.abstract||This research explores the relationship between domestic dwellings, nature and natural environments. I propose that, in order to develop environmental conservation values, individuals must feel some sense of connection to, or lack of separation from, the environment. The places where people reside is where they likely will have a stronger sense of connection and how they live will further mediate this connection. The research considers how vernacular building styles and construction practices influence engagement with the natural environment.
I begin by identifying design elements of huts and baches within natural environments. These structures are considered as a New Zealand vernacular, and their design language is thought to have potential applications that may provide value in contemporary urban architectural design. The study of predominantly small scaled and modest structures also provides a counterpoint to the large scale dwellings prevalent in many urban subdivisions, where relationships with natural systems often appear diminished. It is here where the issue can be seen as a wicked problem, where the wants and needs of the individual conflict with the preservation of environmental systems, as is evident with uncompromised domestic sprawl.
The most significant observations from this thesis are drawn from a series of case studies with participants who had demonstrated a strong sense of attachment to their homes and their natural settings, and who had been involved in the design and development of these homes.
I found that the case study participants had made specific connections to the natural settings where they had chosen to live and the design and/or construction of their homes had them respond to these settings. Memories and past experiences, which included references to huts and baches, but also to dining and socialising, informed many of their design decisions. The act of designing or conceptualising their homes encouraged them to respond to a range of issues determined by their sites and past experiences. The interview process encouraged them to express these issues and they were able to identify specific choices they had made with respect to a series of influences.
For these participants’ owner involvement in design or development of their home and land helped to reinforce meaningful attachments to the environment, and that this, for some, was a reflection of concern for wider environmental issues. Consequently, the development of tools or practices that encourage deeper participation by owners in the design of their homes may prove effective in shifting views to accommodate new values of environment preservation.||