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Typologies and Basic Descriptors of New Zealand Residential Urban Forms

Sumita Ghosh & Robert Vale
a a a

Landcare Research, Crown Research Institute, Auckland, New Zealand Available online: 21 Oct 2009

To cite this article: Sumita Ghosh & Robert Vale (2009): Typologies and Basic Descriptors of New Zealand Residential Urban Forms, Journal of Urban Design, 14:4, 507-536 To link to this article:

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Journal of Urban Design, Vol. 14. No. 4, 507536, November 2009

Typologies and Basic Descriptors of New Zealand Residential Urban Forms

Landcare Research, Crown Research Institute, Auckland, New Zealand

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ABSTRACT This paper presents an urban taxonomy or classication system for New Zealand settlement forms across ve urban scales: metropolitan/regional, sub-metropolitan/city; community/neighbourhood; local/residential block and houses/micro. It provides taxonomical descriptions and density patterns of existing and emerging New Zealand residential urban forms at neighbourhood and local levels. Considering seven case studies in the Auckland Region, this paper formulates a set of basic quantitative urban form descriptors within the urban taxonomical framework. An analysis of these descriptors indicates that dwelling and household densities and spatial distributions of built-up roof areas, vegetation, productive land, impervious pavements and pathways reect their urban form characteristics. These varying qualities can be linked to the appraisal of environmental sustainability performances of different urban forms.

Introduction Urban form refers to the spatial distributions of different land uses connected together with physical infrastructures and associated transport networks (Bertolini et al., 2005, p. 207; Rodrique, 2008). The land use characteristics, site layout, designs of built-up structures, development potentials, related legislation and planning policies and resident community preferences generate varied capabilities and qualities in different urban forms (Anderson et al., 1996). Current urban form and environmental sustainability research in the quest of one or more sustainable urban forms (Jenks et al., 1996; Williams et al., 2000) recognizes the increased importance of identifying various urban form typologies (Ghosh & Vale, 2006a; Ghosh, 2007) and their inter and intra urban scale interactions (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), 2007; University of Cambridge, 2008). Community behavioural patterns and location decisions of households (Anderson et al., 1996) and lifestyle choices (James & Desai, 2003, pp. 42 44) play important roles in achieving sustainability. Improved performances also depend on the form specic potentials of various future alternative urban forms to accommodate emerging urban sustainability initiatives (Newton, 1997; Moriarty, 2002). Some examples of sustainable technologies and mechanisms include: (1) low impact urban design and development (stormwater design, swales,
Correspondence Address: Sumita Ghosh, Urban Research Centre, University of Western Sydney, Australia. Email:
1357-4809 Print/1469-9664 Online/09/040507-30 q 2009 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/13574800903265371


S. Ghosh & R. Vale

bio-retention systems; rain-gardens, rainwater tanks and wetlands) (Nassauer, 2004; Eason et al., 2005, p. 4; Pandey et al., 2005); (2) conservation subdivisions (Arendt, 2004); (3) renewable energy (Australian Greenhouse Ofce, 2003); (4) land-use planning and transport integration (Bertolini et al., 2005, p. 207); (5) waste reduction (Sustainability Victoria, 2005, pp. 4 5); (6) ecologically sensitive design (Alberti & Waddle, 2000); (7) key urban design qualities (Ministry for the Environment (MfE), 2005a, pp. 18 24; Duany, 2005); (8) sustainable buildings (Vale & Vale, 2000; Department of Communities & Local Government, 2006) and (9) life cycle analysis (LCA) of various products and systems (Centre of Design, RMIT, 2006). The inclusion of multiple models of sustainability employed by competing urban actors and contested multidisciplinary ideas make sustainability performance appraisal methods more complex (Guy & Marvin, 1999, p. 268). Environmental sustainability performances of different urban forms in terms of energy use could be potentially assessed (Anderson et al., 1996) by identifying a number of urban forms considering different future plausible scenarios (Newton, 1997). Urban patterns could be classied considering various urban form characteristics at different urban scales, such as: housing choices based on dwelling typologies (Auckland Regional Council, 2003); spatial land use pattern identication (Ghosh & Vale, 2006a); shape (Campbell, 2001); heritage characteristics and life expectancy of the built forms (Marling et al., 1999). For example, many urban researchers have analysed characteristics and sustainability potentials of two broad classes of urban forms: compact and sprawl (Jenks et al., 1996; William et al., 2000; Galster et al., 2001; Moriarty, 2002). Lower density urban forms or sprawl are often identied as unsustainable because of their increasing needs for energy supplies, transportation requirements and intensied use of land and provisions of infrastructure (European Environment Agency, 2006, pp. 28 31). On the contrary, lower density settlements are also capable of providing higher self-sufciency through sustainability benets from on-site supplies of inputs (Moriarty, 2002, p. 242). Questions have been being raised on the dependency of sustainable development on higher densities, its relative meaning and links to achievable sustainability advantages to their form-specic characteristics (Jenks & Dempsey, 2005, p. 287). These higher density developments with their associated advantages of reduced resource use are often presented as the todays visionary solution (Guy & Marvin, 1999, p. 268) for achieving sustainable future urban forms while the concept of higher density is entirely relative (Jenks & Dempsey, 2005, p. 304). Peoples preferences are most likely to be inuenced by their lifestyle choices, and successful sustainable contributions of higher density developments could be driven by their capabilities to deliver desired quality of life for people (Jenks & Dempsey, 2005, p. 307). Urban form variables operate differently at certain levels, for example a variable, such as density could carry different meanings at various urban scales (Tsai, 2005, p. 142). The UK SOLUTIONS (Sustainability Of Land Use and Transport In Outer Neighbourhoods) project aims to investigate interactions and interdependence of different outer-city areas (suburbs, urban fringes, out-of-town developments and satellite settlements and associated integrated urban sustainability impacts from city-region down to neighbourhood scales (Gordon, 2005; University of Cambridge et al., 2008). Considering four case studies at Cambridge, London, Tyne and Wear and Bristol), different viable urban

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Typologies and Descriptors of New Zealand Residential Urban Forms


archetypes (e.g. in the Cambridge case study four forms were employed: pod; cell; cluster and linear) tting with the local conditions at local scales are suggested (University of Cambridge et al., 2008). It explores the interactions of physical design, conguration and layout to the wider urban system, land uses, functions, the typologies and densities (University of Cambridge et al., 2008). Inclusion of important quantitative factors, such as new construction, energy use, land intake, bio diversity, carbon dioxide emissions and pervious and impervious surfaces in the assessment method (University of Cambridge et al., 2008) further strengthens our environmental sustainability research approach to calculate urban sustainability at local scales. Cityform, a project with the Sustainable Urban Form Consortium, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), also in the UK, aims to analyse interrelationships between environment, transport, social and economic sustainability and urban forms (high density, compact and mixed use) considering 15 case studies (EPSRC, 2007). Both Cityform and SOLUTIONS projects indicate the signicance of various urban form characteristics at different urban scales. They demonstrate the importance of multiple physical factors in the sustainability assessment framework and also in connecting different spatial scales. In New Zealand, urban growth strategies, policies and legislation at national (e.g. The New Zealand Urban Design Protocol; National Energy Efciency and Conservation Strategy; NZ Sustainable Development Programme of Action (NZSDPOA); Resource Management Act 1991, Local Government Act, 2002) and regional (e.g. Auckland Regional Growth Strategy 2050; Auckland Regional Land Transport Strategy, 2005; Auckland Regional Affordable Housing Strategy, 2003, Regional and District Plans of territorial authorities) levels are inuencing urban transformations generating signicantly different environmental sustainability contributions (Ghosh, 2007; Ghosh & Vale, 2007). One of the four key issues addressed in the NZ Sustainable Development Programme of Action (NZSDPOA), a national policy promoting sustainability, focuses on developing sustainable cities (MfE, 2003) while the New Zealand Urban Design Protocol recommends applications of seven urban design qualities in New Zealands urban areas (MfE, 2005a). Auckland Regional Growth Strategy 2050 (ARGS) is a major future policy document to promote sustainability in the Auckland Region, the largest urban region of New Zealand (Regional Growth Forum (RGF), 1999). Planning policies in the Auckland Region prescribe that different housing typologies could be constructed at varying distances from the public transport nodes and growth centres. For example, two-storey town houses and duplexes are permitted within an 800-metre to 400-metre radius of a town centre (Auckland Regional Council (ARC), 2000). Residential zoning guidelines in urban areas as per the Auckland City District Plan guidelines provide meaningful criteria for assessing a local residential environment considering it is specic neighbourhood characteristics, such as aspect, site characteristics (topography), orientation and existing built form (Auckland City Council, 1999a, Part 7: Residential Activity). A recent OECD (2007) report on the New Zealand environment has recommended that New Zealand would be required to: reinforce national policy guidance; progress regulatory efciency and integrate environmental concerns with other areas in decision making to address environmental management challenges (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 2007). An urban taxonomy with associated descriptors could provide a succinct framework, which could inform regional and local scale policies to facilitate or constrain particular forms

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S. Ghosh & R. Vale

of developments by identifying various urban patterns. Detailed NZ national, regional and local policy analysis is not within the scope of this paper, therefore it is not included. This paper is an output from Learning Sustainability, a Foundation for Research Science and Technology (FRST), New Zealand funded six-year research project in collaboration with OPUS International Consultants Ltd., Landcare Research and the University of Auckland, New Zealand. The main objectives are grouped under three main headings: environmental performance; settlement liveability and alternative urban futures (Opus International Ltd. et al., 2006). The main aims of the project are to: comprehend both qualitative and quantitative interactions and interrelationships between people and the emerging urban forms from social, economic, environmental and ecological perspectives; understand community perceptions on urban futures and develop integrated sustainable settlement assessment methods and design tools for alternative sustainable settlement forms for the community (Opus International Ltd. et al., 2006). This research project recognizes the importance of an integrated sustainability concept considering social, economic, environmental and ecological aspects, which will be reported in subsequent papers in the future. Although this paper comes out of the environmental performance objective, it is closely connected with social and other dimensions of integrated settlement sustainability as detailed in the Learning Sustainability project (Opus International Ltd. et al., 2006). This paper presents an urban taxonomy for New Zealand (NZ) settlement forms, spatial descriptions and characteristics of these existing and emerging urban forms, particularly at neighbourhood and local urban scales. This paper presents basic urban form descriptors formulated from seven residential urban form case studies from the Auckland Region, New Zealand. The paper also establishes how these selected urban forms case studies could differ from each other considering their spatial patterns, densities and varying physical characteristics within the urban taxonomical structure. Urban form descriptors for environmental sustainability assessments are formulated within a context-potential-performance framework. This paper reports only on the basic urban form descriptors identied within the context part of the context-potential-performance framework. This framework follows an integrated environmental sustainability approach for assessing any residential built environment. As the complete details of the framework including potential and performance aspects is not within the scope of this paper, therefore the details will be published in a subsequent second paper considering the same seven case studies.

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Urban Taxonomy or Classication System Taxonomy is dened in the Oxford Dictionary as the branch of science concerned with a scheme of classication and originates from the Greek words taxis (arrangement) and nomia (distribution). Taxonomy provides a hierarchy in structure and is often applied to classifying living organisms (Oxford University Press, 2005). The evolutionary nature of an urban form is affected by certain long-lived elements such as buildings and infrastructure, which may continue to inuence the spatial conguration of new elements for decades and even centuries (Wegener, 1986).

Typologies and Descriptors of New Zealand Residential Urban Forms


The Transect, developed by Duany, is a form-based rural to urban coding system for providing urban design guidelines for urban developments based on sustainable New Urbanism principles. It recommends six (T1 T6) zones or development patterns and provides urban design guidelines across sector, site and building levels (Duany, 2005, pp.1 24). These guidelines assume that denite zone based urban form typologies would appear at certain distances from the city centre along rural-urban cross section. The form based Transect is relevant for the specic development patterns in the USA, but would require considerable changes for making it suitable for applications along a New Zealand rural-urban cross section. Again, measurements of potential objective and subjective sustainability performances need to be tested for these development patterns in New Zealand contexts. Urban morphological researches have focused on identifying dimensions of sprawl forms and comparing their characteristics with compact patterns of development. At the metropolitan level, using simulation analyses, Tsai (2005) has distinguished compactness from sprawl for mono centric, polycentric and decentralized sprawling urban forms (Tsai, 2005). Galster et al. (2001) identied eight dimensions of sprawl: density; continuity; concentration; clustering; nuclearity; centrality; mixed uses and proximity (Galster et al., 2001). Knaap et al. (2005) classied ve urban scale-based approaches: metropolitan structure (regions); sub-metropolitan structure (sub-areas of regions); community design (neighbourhoods); urban design (blocks); and landscape ecology (patch structures in a landscape along a continuum) for measuring urban sprawl using multi-disciplinary perspectives (Knaap et al., 2005, p. 8). Research by Knaap et al. (2005) showed that at the metropolitan scale, urban sprawl measurements focus on population/employment, shapes and job-housing balance etc, while the same at the sub-metropolitan scale concentrate more on transport analysis and networks etc. Landscape ecology includes non-urban uses of land covers. The urban design scale dimensions are based on subjective qualities (peoples perceptions in experiencing space and design, e.g. coherence, safety, aesthetics etc.) and objective (built form, building heights, solar access to buildings) measures. Some of the urban design scale metrics of urban sprawl, such as transport infrastructure, building design, environmental context, accessibility and perceptions could provide information on improved standards for subdivision design and behavioural change towards sustainability (Knaap et al., 2005, p. 31). Identication of eight dimensions of sprawl (Galster et al., 2001) and structural characteristics of three metropolitan forms typologies (Tsai, 2005) are very useful for urban morphological studies, but do not align this urban form research at an urban design scale. Knaap et al.s (2005) overarching analysis, although for one specic urban form, the urban sprawl, provides a useful platform for formulating the urban taxonomy and an environmental sustainability performance assessment methodology for various local scale urban form typologies for New Zealand. New Zealand concepts of high, medium and low residential densities are different from international perceptions of these densities and further information is presented in Table 1 of this paper. Even medium density housing is a new urban pattern in New Zealand (Dixon & Dupuis, 2003). Until now the predominant urban form in New Zealand has been low density, low rise and rural in character (Ghosh et al., 2007). New Zealands largest urban area, the Auckland Region, houses one-third of the whole countrys population, indicating a comparatively

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S. Ghosh & R. Vale Table 1. Densities of emerging residential developments, New Zealand

Name and location of urban development in New Zealand Harbour View, Waitakere City (MfE, 2005b, p. 50) Suburban

Short descriptions from references Gross density calculated Total site area and number of dwellings (dwellings/ hectare) Medium-density attached, single-level attached, small and large single sections (MfE, 2005b, p. 50) Total site area: 41.5 ha, 370 residential units (MfE, 2005b: 50) Medium-density semi-detached housing (MfE, 2005b, p. 83) Total site area: 77 ha; 630 houses (MfE, 2005b, p. 77) 9 dwellings/hectare

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Northwood Residential Area, Christchurch City Suburban

9.5 dwellings/hectare (MfE, 2005b, p. 77)

Woodbury Park, New Lynn, Total site area: 3.63 ha, 55 Waitakere City (ARC, 2000, p. 27) semi-detached houses Suburban Addison Development, Papakura District Suburban Growth Node Medium density, green eld residential development, master planned (MfE, 2007, pp. 2, 4) Total site area: 84 ha, 1500 homes of different housing typologies ((MfE, 2007, p. 3) Medium density (Ghosh & Vale, 2007b) Urban eco neighbourhood, co-housing (Earthsong Eco-Neighbourhood, 2006) Total site area:1.62 ha, 32 homes Medium density housing (MfE, 2005b, p. 23) Total site area: 5.9 ha (approx.) 147 two-storey terraced dwellings (MfE, 2005b, p. 18) High density development (Ghosh & Vale, 2007b). Total site area: 1.53 ha, two-level 85 attached double-storey town houses Medium density (Dixon & Dupuis, 2003). Total site area: 5 ha, 300 residential units MfE, 2005c, p. 39; Dixon & Dupuis, (2003)

15 dwellings/hectare

20 dwellings/hectare (MfE, 2007, p. 3)

Earth song, Eco neighbourhood, Waitakere City Suburban

Ti Rakau Drive Terrace Houses, East Park, Manukau City Suburban Growth Node

25 dwellings/hectare (MfE, 2005b, p. 18)

Greenwich Park, Auckland City (Ghosh, 2007b) Very Close to Auckland Regions Central Business District Ambrico Place (Tuscany Towers), New Lynn, Waitakere City Suburban Growth Node

56 dwellings/ hectare

60 dwellings/ hectare

a signicant population concentration in one region. Some of the emerging urban form typologies in the Auckland Region, such as low and high-rise apartments, attached town houses and terrace houses are fairly recent, which have already been common built forms in many other urban areas for centuries. In many of the other NZ urban areas, these built typologies are not even found. Urban areas

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of New Zealand will experience only a gradual change in density and nodal intensications are likely to happen while the predominant land use would remain at lower density (MfE, 2005c, p. 39). In the New Zealand context, classifying built forms is a unique opportunity as many built forms are yet to be built. These different urban form typologies and the related basic descriptors are formulated with a focus to develop an integrated environmental performance assessment method considering multiple factors (domestic energy use, travel to work, carbon sequestration by vegetation cover, food and waste). Therefore, the New Zealand built environment has an unparallel potential to test the sustainability performance of typologies before signicant numbers of new urban forms are embedded into the New Zealand urban fabric. This classication system may have similarities to other existing built form typologies but it is formulated specically considering New Zealand urban contexts.

Urban Taxonomy for New Zealand Ghosh & Vale (2006a) have formulated a preliminary New Zealand urban taxonomy. This paper presents the outcomes of further research carried out to validate and nalize the urban taxonomy and to formulate basic descriptors linking urban form typologies considering an integrated environmental sustainability assessment approach. Figure 1 presents the urban taxonomy or classication system that comprises ve scales: (1) metropolitan/regional; (2) sub-metropolitan/city; (3) community/neighbourhood; (4) local/residential block; and (5) houses/microscale. Five urban scales were chosen because these scales comprehensively address all the urban form typologies across spatial dimensions. Details of these ve urban scales are explained later in this section. From the community/neighbourhood scale downwards, this classication system considers both existing and emerging NZ residential urban forms and provides a framework for categorizing urban forms. These forms occur at different urban locations, such as the suburban fringe, periurban areas or the inner city, depending on their characteristics. Metropolitan/regional scale. This considers overall shapes of the settlements and includes broad spatial relationships among different types of urban land uses such as commercial, residential, industrial and open spaces. It groups major regional settlement patterns into three classes based on three generalized descriptive models of urban structures: mono-centric from the concentric zone model developed by Burgess in 1920; radial from the sector model developed by Hoyt in 1939, and . polycentric from the multiple nuclei model developed by Harris and Ullman in 1945. (Campbell, 2001)
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The concentric zone model depicts the use of urban land as a set of concentric rings, with each ring with a different land use with a mono centric central business district. The sector model theorized that cities would tend to grow in wedgeshaped patterns or sectors, emanating from the central business district (CBD) and centred on major transportation routes in a radial fashion. The multiple nuclei model considered that in larger urban areas, smaller business districts acted as satellite nodes or nuclei of activity around which land use patterns are formed (Campbell, 2001). These models represent level of spatial accumulation and how


S. Ghosh & R. Vale

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Figure 1. Urban form taxonomy/classication system

urban spatial form and structure or activity systems are linked to land-use patterns and transportation activities (Rodrique, 2008). They provide useful information on a possible evolution process of a small urban area into a larger regional urban area

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or agglomeration of smaller urban areas over time and are widely accepted by urban form researchers (Campbell, 2001; Rodrique, 2008). Statistics New Zealand has dened a range of settlements in New Zealand, mainly based on settlement characteristics and population counts. Section 3 of the New Zealand Local Government Act 2002 (Parliamentary Counsel Ofce, 2007) species that to be dened as cities, settlements should have a minimum of four attributes: a population not less than 50 000 persons; predominantly urban; a distinct identity and be a major centre of activity within the region. Statistics New Zealands classication of New Zealand urban areas following these criteria in 2005, categorized a total of 16 main urban areas with population ranging from 1 241 600 (Auckland Region) to 32 800 (Gisborne) and a further 14 secondary urban areas (Statistics New Zealand, 2001, 2005). Statistics New Zealands classication provides an indication of variations in population distributions within New Zealand. A polycentric urban region in a New Zealand context comprising at least 1 million inhabitants, is typied by the Auckland Region with 1 158 891 people (Statistics New Zealand, 2001), which is expected to increase to 2 million by 2030. Some of the main and secondary urban areas in New Zealand with a comparatively lower population (such as, Gisborne (32 800); Greymouth (9560) are gradually changing and could be tted to either concentric or radial form of settlement patterns depending on the extent and spatial characteristics. Therefore, these three models of settlement forms would t appropriately as three basic archetypal forms in the taxonomy at metropolitan scale for New Zealand. Sub-metropolitan/city scale. This considers six city forms: low density/dispersed; compact; corridor; edge; fringe and ultra. These forms have already been dened by previous researches (Gibson, 1977, Pressman, 1985 and Minnery, 1992 all as quoted in Australian Academy of Technological Sciences & Engineering, 1997, chapter 5) and also have been considered as six alternative urban future scenarios at the city scale for Australia (Newton, 1997). Within an edge city higher densities are permitted at selected nodes, while a fringe city can accommodate additional growth predominantly on the outskirts or at the periphery. Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand, could be classied as a compact city because its hilly topography limits expansion. Each of the four cities, Auckland, Manukau, Waitakere and North Shore and three districts, Franklin, Papakura and Rodney have different urban forms that are agglomerated together in the Auckland Region. Waitakere is a suburban edge city, while Franklin, Papakura and Rodney are lifestyle based fringe urban areas. Smaller urban areas such as Taupo, mainly a holiday city, located in the central part of the North Island, is growing around the main tourist attraction, Lake Taupo and along State Highway 1 in a corridor fashion. The ultra city is dened as a provincial city within a distance of 100 kilometres of a capital city and is connected by a high-speed rail transport network (Newton, 1997). The ultra city has been included in the classication system as a future prospect considering the evolution of existing urban areas (Ghosh & Vale, 2006a). In future it may be possible that rapid transit links between Auckland CBD and Hamilton city (located approximately 120 kilometres from Auckland) and other near by urban areas would allow daily commuting as observed in many other metropolitan regions of the world. This is also beginning to happen between Wellington and Palmerston North. Three urban scales classied below the sub-metropolitan/city level consider specically the New Zealand residential developments (Ghosh & Vale, 2006a).


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Community/neighbourhood scale. This considers the urban forms containing population ranging from 5000 to 10 000 people or 1200 to 3000 households based on heritage, character and location (Ghosh, 2007; Ghosh & Vale, 2006a). Characters may consider aspects such as landform, topography, architectural style, site layout and others, while location includes distances from the central business district, major commercial nodes and transportation arteries such as public transport provisions. The system classies these areas into ve basic types: (1) suburban; (2) historic; (3) volcanic; (4) coastal and (5) inner city/close to inner city. The volcanic classication is a type unique to the Auckland Region as this urban region is built on volcanic cones and contains existing residential urban developments on the slopes of the cones. The housing stocks in Ponsonby in the Auckland Region contain heritage villas from the Edwardian and Victorian era and many other cities (Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington etc.) have historic heritage buildings in the inner city areas. As an island nation, New Zealand comprises two islands and has signicant length of land areas along the coastline, which includes various patterns of residential developments. The suburban and inner-city/close to inner city categories are further divided into eight and four sub-categories respectively based on density and zoning (Figure 1). An existing urban form could have a combination of two or more basic physical characteristics. An existing medium density residential development on the slope of a volcanic cone may contain heritage buildings with a historic pattern of development at a suburban location, for example, residential developments around Mt Eden Village in Auckland City. This development pattern could be classied as suburban-medium density-volcanic and heritage, an appropriate composite urban form typology as per the urban taxonomy for New Zealand. Most of the new residential developments will be under either the suburban or the inner city or close to inner-city categories and could be further sub-categorized according to their layout and built form typologies. Local/residential block scale. This considers dwelling density, zoning and residential form linked to the urban design scale and could contain a population ranging from 150 to 650 people or 50 to 200 households (Ghosh, 2004, p. 226). This scale has been introduced in the taxonomy because a signicant number of residential development projects are implemented at this level (Ghosh & Vale, 2006a). This scale has three categories: low density (detached large single dwelling and co-housing or eco-housing); medium density (detached and semi-detached townhouses, detached inll housing, co-operative/ eco-housing and gated communities); and . high density (attached multifamily units or medium to high-rise apartments).
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House(s)/ micro scale. This form constitutes the basic level in the New Zealand residential taxonomy. A single house to a few houses with shared built typology and common facilities could be identied within this scale. For example, a single detached residential dwelling could house a single household while a double storey housing unit could accommodate multiple households in a single building sharing different or similar size units and common facilities such as staircase and driveways.

Typologies and Descriptors of New Zealand Residential Urban Forms Basic Descriptors of New Zealand Residential Taxonomical Urban Forms Density Patterns in New Zealand


In 2003, Auckland Regional Council classied housing choices of different dwelling typologies and specied gross neighbourhood densities under a location based system: urban, suburban and rural. Urban includes high (80 dwelling units (du)/hectare (ha)), medium (452 80 du/ha) and low (30 50 du/ha) rise apartments, terrace houses (25 40 du/ha) and mixed use residential and business (30 du/ha) housing choices. Suburban includes home unit and townhouses (16 24 du/ha), small-lot suburban house (12 18 du/ha) and conventional suburban homes (8 12 du/ha) (Auckland Regional Council, 2003). As these categories are focused on dwelling typology descriptions and choices, they do not include the residential urban forms considering whole development scales and their immediate environs, which are important for assessing integrated neighbourhood sustainability. The density scales make a sharp distinction between urban and suburban categories and do not take account of urban forms with similar density patterns and characters in both the urban and suburban locations, such as medium density medium rise or medium density medium rise mixed. These forms could also be dissimilar in environmental sustainability performances because environmental impacts of transport would be different for suburban urban forms compared to the inner-city patterns for their respective variations in travel distances. The NZ urban taxonomy framework includes an associated set of basic descriptors that take into account spatial land use distribution; urban form characteristics at a community/neighbourhood scale; urban design qualities; site layout and built up features at a local/residential block scale and building types at a house/micro scale. Therefore, this urban taxonomy framework differs from the related framework developed by the Auckland Regional Council that prescribed residential form descriptions based on building types and dwelling densities (Auckland Regional Council, 2003). The research here has calculated gross dwelling densities of seven selected urban case studies considering existing patterns of developments at the local/ residential scale from aerial photographs using ArcGIS and simple mathematical methods (see Table 3). In addition to these, Ghosh & Vale (2007) further examined the local environmental sustainability of three emerging urban residential developments at: Greenwich Park, Grafton, Auckland City; Addison, Takanini, Papakura District and Earthsong Eco-Neighbourhood, Ranui, Waitakere City. While the Greenwich Park development presents a case of residential intensication (Ghosh & Vale, 2007, p. 8), Addison takes a more urban design oriented approach to achieve sustainability (MfE, 2007). The Earthsong development is focused on minimizing environmental impacts through waste reduction, rainwater use, solar water heater use, local food production and adapting to sustainable lifestyles (Ghosh & Vale, 2007, p. 9). Densities of some emerging residential developments in NZ are presented in Table 1. Medium density housing is a new form of development compared to single detached conventional houses in New Zealand (Dixon & Dupuis, 2003, p. 353). The calculated densities of dwellings per hectare and urban form characteristics described as medium density vary not only across a range of densities (low, medium to high) but also within a single density scale, and in addition associated interpretations differ. The ARCs intensication guide (ARC, 2000, p. 29)

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described the East Park development in the Manukau City as a higher density housing, but as the medium density housing in the Ministry for the Environments urban design case studies (MfE, 2005b, p. 21). The Harbourview is described as a medium density development (MfE, 2005b, p. 50), although its calculated gross dwelling density of nine dwellings per hectare suggest that it would be more appropriate to classify this as a low density development. Density has been established as an important concept for determining development standards and indeed it has a relative meaning (Jenks & Dempsey, 2005, pp. 287, 304). In spite of Auckland Regional Councils classied housing choices, there is no common terminology for identifying a development following a common density standard related to specic urban form characteristics. Therefore, it was essential to formulate an urban taxonomy for New Zealand and to identify form specic descriptions and density standards for different urban patterns within this taxonomical framework at a neighbourhood or whole development scale. New Zealand Residential Urban Form Descriptions at the Neighbourhood Scale This NZ urban taxonomy framework can identify characteristics of a specic urban form following a top-down process across three urban scales. It requires determining an appropriate urban form classication at the community/neighbourhood scale, its sub-categorization at the residential block/local scale and considering further details at the micro scale. The three main underlying attributesspatial distributions, urban design characteristics and building typescould generate scale based suitable classications for various urban forms. For example, at a neighbourhood scale, an urban form could be identied as Suburbanlow density low rise. The descriptions for the same urban form at a local scale as single family single or double storey detached large houses with ample open spaces around the houses and large lot sizes would classify its subcategory as Low densitydetached large single dwellings. At a micro scale, the specic building type, such as, detached single dwelling would include its architectural characters and styles, functional design, total oor areas and materials of construction. This urban taxonomy has formulated detailed urban form descriptions for each category of residential urban forms. For example, an Inner city or close to inner cityhigh density medium rise urban form is described as: two to seven storey medium/small size attached/semi detached housing units or residential apartments; very little natural open space and vegetation; recreated landscaped courts; signicant impervious areas for driveways for parking and shared community services; density: high, dwelling units 40 to 80 du/ha; and location: within or close to the CBD. Table 2 presents the residential NZ taxonomical urban form descriptions at the neighbourhood scale.

Descriptions Figure 2 presents typical plans and photographic and three-dimensional representations of two residential types, to show differences in their form characteristics. The residential housing forms of Eco-neighbourhood and Suburban medium density (Figures 3 and 4) may look similar at the

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Table 2. Neighbourhood-scale New Zealand residential urban form descriptions

Gross Density (dwelling units (du)/ha) & location



SUBURBAN Papakainga Low density; at suburban edges

Traditional Maori residential settlement form (pa); includes outdoor living, communal gathering places, gardens and play areas all integrated together

Low density low rise

Single family single or double-storeyed detached large houses dispersed; ample Low; 15 du/ha or below; far away from CBD, at the open spaces around the houses; large lot sizes; signicant amount of available urban periphery or fringe productive land for food production; very good tree canopy and grass cover and less pavement areas


Self-sufcient neighbourhoods with low impact urban design technology Low to medium; 15 du/ha or below to 25 du/ha; at appliedrain tanks; grass swales, bio retention tanks; permeable paving; use of suburban edges renewable energysolar water heater, photo-voltaic modules; appropriate design of building and community adhere to sustainable behaviour practices

Medium density residential

Single family single/double storeyed detached/semi attached large/ medium Medium; 15 to 25 du/ha; moderate distance to any town and neighbourhood centre houses built close to each other; moderate open spaces around the houses; medium to smaller lot sizes; limited amount of available productive land for food production; older areas have a good tree canopy cover but new development have comparatively less or no tree canopy cover; water collection from municipal supply; larger paved/ impervious areas and longer driveways

Medium density mixed

Double to three-storeyed attached/semi-attached medium size housing units or Medium; equivalent 15 to 25 du/ha; moderate apartments in combination with other land uses such as shops, ofces at ground distance or close to any town and neighbourhood oor or rst oor; limited open space and vegetation; large impervious areas for centre driveways and parking; shared services in the subdivisions;

Typologies and Descriptors of New Zealand Residential Urban Forms 519

Medium density mixed nodal Two to six-storeyed attached/semi-attached, medium/small size housing units or Medium; equivalent 15 to 25 du/ha within 400 m to apartments in combination with other land uses such as shops, ofces at ground maximum 800 m from any subregional, town and oor or rst oor; very limited open space and vegetation; large impervious areas neighbourhood centre for driveways and parking; shared services of the subdivision

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Table 2. (continued)
Gross Density (dwelling units (du)/ha) & location



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High density medium rise residential

Two to four-storeyed attached/semi attached medium/small size housing units or High; 25 to 40 du/ha; at close distance to any apartments; almost no natural open space and vegetation; recreated landscaped subregional, town and neighbourhood centre courts; signicant impervious areas for driveways and parking; shared services High; equivalent 25 to 40 du/ha; at close distance to any subregional, town and neighbourhood centre

High density medium rise mixed

In addition to above characteristics of high density medium rise residential, this type is found in combination with other land uses such as shopping arcades, ofces, educational institutes or training institutes

INNER CITY/CLOSE TO INNER CITY High density medium rise Two to seven-storeyed medium/small size attached/semi-attached housing units High; 40 to 80 du/ha; within or very close to the CBD residential or residential apartments; very limited natural open spaces and vegetation; recreated landscaped courts; signicant impervious areas for driveways and parking; shared services High; equivalent 40 to 80 du/ha; within the CBD

High density medium rise mixed

In addition to above are found in combination with other land uses such as shopping arcades, ofces, educational institutes or training institutes

High-density high rise

Above seven-storeyed/ multi-storeyed sky scrapers with medium/small size High; 80 du/ha; within or very close to the CBD residential apartments; no natural open spaces and vegetation; recreated landscaped courts at ground or upper levels, roof gardens; very high impervious areas at ground; covered parking at basement or ground; shared services

High density high rise mixed

In addition to above characteristics of high density high rise, this type is found in High; equivalent 80 du/ha; within very close to the combination with other land uses such as shopping arcades, ofces, educational CBD. institutes or training institutes

Typologies and Descriptors of New Zealand Residential Urban Forms


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Figure 2. Suburban low density and low rise and inner city or close high density medium rise NZ urban forms. Source: Photographs by Sumita Ghosh. Drawings by Sumita Ghosh and 3D drawings by Boffa Miskell.


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Figure 3. Eco-neighbourhood and local scale. Drawing and photograph by Sumita Ghosh, based on information from Earthsong Eco-Neighbourhood (2006).

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house(s)/micro scale, but at a residential block/local scale their environmental sustainability performances could be very different because of the ability of the Eco-neighbourhoods to include additional sustainability features such as on-site community food production, renewable energy generation, common service provisions (e.g. common laundry and kitchen etc.) and collective sustainable lifestyle choices. Three-dimensional visualizations could provide important understanding of urban design qualities and typical patterns of different urban forms. Figures 3 6 present some suburban and inner city residential urban form categories from the NZ urban taxonomy.

Sustainability Indicators, Assessment Tools and Framework Indicators and Tools Sustainability indicators provide an understanding of our urban scorecard and comparative performance, possible ways to promote best practice in all aspects of urban development, and a means of monitoring progress towards sustainability (Commonwealth of Australia, 2005). Indicators could be developed at three spatial levels: global, national and local (Ghosh et al., 2006a). The common OECD pressure-state-response model or framework for developing sustainability indicators follows a three-step process: driving force (the cause); state (the present status); and response (policy measures taken for solution) (MfE, 1997, p. 6).

Figure 4. Suburban: medium density residential: neighbourhood and local scale. Photographs by Sumita Ghosh.

Typologies and Descriptors of New Zealand Residential Urban Forms


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Figure 5. Suburban: medium density residential mixed: typical plan and 3D-visualisation. Drawing by Sumita Ghosh and 3D drawing by Boffa Miskell.

Pressure could refer to human activities, acting as a source for altering the environmental quality, such as increasing use of motor vehicles escalating air pollution (MfE, 1997, p. 6). State is an impact or condition as a result of pressure, such as higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the air while Response is the policy formulation for the implementation of actions and improvement of the environment, such as transport policy formulation to improve the public transport network and frequency of service to enhance public transport use (MfE, 1997, p. 6). Measurement, assessment and reporting using sustainability assessment tools could provide important indications of urban sustainability. A review of sustainability assessment tools reveals that most existing tools are applied at the building scales. Examples include Building Sustainability Index (BASIX) (New South Wales Government, 2008), LEED Green Building Rating System (US Green Building Council (USGBC), 2008) and (BREEAM) (Building Research Establishment Ltd (BRE), 2008). There are comparatively limited sustainability assessment tools that exist or are currently under development at the neighbourhood and local scales. Examples include, LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) (CNU, NRDC and USGBC, 2005) and the Tool for Urban SustainabilityCode of Practice (TUSC) rating systems (Waitakere City Council and the Ministry for the Environment, 2008). The formulation of tools at both neighbourhood and local scales needs to consider complex issues related to varying density patterns; urban form and land

Figure 6. nner city high density high rise: neighbourhood scale and typical plan. Photograph and drawing by Sumita Ghosh.


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use characteristics; lifestyle choices of community; urban design; energy efciency and many other related factors. Context-Potential-Performance Assessment Framework The research here is focused on determining objectively the comparative sustainability performances of various urban form typologies, considering their spatial characteristics, potential to accommodate different localized sustainable technologies and post-occupancy evaluation of actual resident community behaviour and built environment usage patterns. A pressure-state-response (PSR) framework follows holistic cause-effect-social response logic (Dalal-Clayton et al., 2002, p. 320). Therefore, it is appropriate for an environmental assessment when a specic environmental problem is identied and then its subsequent effects when the state of the environment and policy initiatives are analysed (Pearce & Barbier, 2000, p. 6; Dalal-Clayton et al., 2002, p. 320). As this research is not based on identifying an environmental problem or driver, the application of a PSR framework is limited and not suitable for this research. In this paper, descriptors are dened as the quantitative physical parameters that could be measured to identify the differences and similarities in urban form characteristics, land-use patterns, and their sustainability potentials in terms of their abilities to accommodate alternative models of future sustainable urban form within the spatial frameworks of different urban patterns. While these descriptors are very similar to quantitative sustainability indicators in functional terms, such as road space per capita, open space per capita and energy use in kWh per capita per year, the descriptors differ from many sustainability indicators because they do not follow the pressure-state-response model. Therefore it is essential to formulate a new context-potential-performance framework to measure specically sustainability performances of different urban forms. The context-potential-performance framework for environmental assessment could provide a systematic structure required to assess the sustainability of built environments. It could integrate all aspects of sustainability performances of various urban forms across the whole process of designing and functioning, including behaviour. The urban descriptors formulated in this research follow the context-potential-performance framework. Context refers to the spatial patterns and physical parameters of various urban forms, while potential identies the abilities of these urban forms to accommodate alternative environmentally sustainable technologies for future urban forms. Performance demonstrates monitoring of actual environmental sustainability performance of an urban form in a post-occupancy period considering resident community behavioural patterns and their lifestyle choices. Ecological footprint calculations are based on a nite productive land area and water area is needed to sustain human demand and waste output within natures bio-capacity (Wackernagel & Rees, 1996). Data from the Bio Regional Development Groups research on ve possible lifestyle scenarios in conventional and carbon neutral (BedZED) developments in the UK (James & Desai, 2003, pp. 42 44) indicates lifestyle choices could signicantly reduce ecological footprints. Analysis of the BedZED data shows that if we alter the built environment, it can reduce ecological footprint by 11%, but changing how we live, without altering the built environment, can reduce ecological footprint by 22% (Vale & Dixon, 2005). As behavioural performance can make the potentially larger impact towards sustainability, it must be added to the performance part of the

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Typologies and Descriptors of New Zealand Residential Urban Forms


framework. A fourth step, response could be added to this framework for appropriate policy formulation and for implementation both at potential and performance stages of the framework. Further research on this has already formulated the context-potential-performance framework. As it is not within the scope of this paper, it is not included and will be presented in a subsequent paper. This paper identies and analyses only the context, the rst step towards identifying various physical characteristics of various urban forms and the basic descriptors using a GIS based measurement method for seven case studies from the Auckland Region, New Zealand.

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Applying the Descriptors of Residential Urban Forms The Auckland Region comprises four cities (Auckland, Manukau, North Shore and Waitakere) and three districts (Franklin, Papakura and Rodney). Seven residential case studies at New Lynn, Methuen Road, Sandringham Road, Richmond Road, Grafton, Glen Innes and Wellington Street were selected from the Auckland Region. Figure 7 presents the urban form layouts of the selected seven urban form case studies.

Figure 7. elected seven urban form case studies: subdivision layouts. Source: Auckland City Council (1999b)


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District Plan Zoning Categories All case studies are located in Auckland City except New Lynn, which is within the jurisdiction of Waitakere City. According to the current Waitakere City District Plan, New Lynn is zoned as Living Environment 1 with minimum each subdivision area not less than 400 square metres (m2) per dwelling (Waitakere City Council, 2003). The Auckland City District Plan Operative 1999 has eight zoning categories in total, with subsequent sub-categories under some zoning patterns. Residential 1 is a heritage zoning with a permitted density of one unit per 400 m2 while Residential 5 is a low density zoning with 1 2 storey detached houses with generous open spaces around the houses. Residential 6 is the most signicant medium density residential zoning with two sub-categories: 6a (permitted density one unit per 375 m2 with allowable maximum height 8 metres) and 6b (permitted density one unit per 300 m2 allowable maximum height 10 metres). Similarly, Residential 7, high-intensity zoning, allows multi-family dwellings and has two sub-categories: 7a (permitted maximum height limit of 10 metres) and 7b (permitted maximum height limit of 12.5 metres). Residential 8 is a high density zoning for compact developments in strategic growth areas such as growth nodes and it has two sub-categories. The Residential 8a zone allows a residential density up to one unit per 150 m2 and a maximum height of 11.0 metres, while the Residential 8b zone permits a higher residential density up to one unit per 100 m2 and a maximum height of 14.0 metres (Auckland City Council, 1999a, Part 7, A14 A18).

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Methodology Selection of case studies. Selection criteria for these seven urban case studies include: distance from the city centre; residential zoning; site conguration; proximity to transport and shopping; total number of households (ranging between 50 and 200) and household density per hectare (Ghosh et al., 2006b, p. 19). However, it is possible that selection criteria incorporating more attributes of local sustainability could be added to strengthen further research (Ghosh et al., 2007). Transport accessibilities of the case studies are measured through distances from the city centre (CBD) and proximity to the main transport corridors and shopping facilities. The residential zoning patterns according to the district plan guidelines represent regulatory development controls administered by the local authorities to direct the nature of current and future urban form development. Site congurations connect to site layout design of the selected urban form case studies, and total number of households and household density patterns relate to specic urban form typologies and residential occupancy patterns (Ghosh et al., 2007; Ghosh & Vale, 2006a). These seven urban case study forms could be categorized across community/neighbourhood and local/ residential block scales in the New Zealand context. For example, the classication of these case studies at community/neighbourhood scale is shown below. Community/neighbourhood scale: Suburban: Low density low riseNew Lynn, Methuen Road and Glen Innes Suburban: Medium density medium riseSandringham Road and Richmond Road . Suburban: High density medium riseWellington Street . Close to the inner city: High density medium riseGrafton
. .

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The District Plans indicate one or sometimes more than one zoning pattern in the selected case studies. For example, Sandringham Road has three: Residential 6a (medium intensity), 6b (medium intensity) and 7a (high intensity) zoning patterns. The district plan species zoning for the Grafton study area as Residential 8 and does not indicate any sub-categorization. This urban area is currently under plan modication by the Auckland City Council. However, the current built up structures of this compact form include attached town houses with two storeys which resemble the characteristics of sub-category Residential 8a. Considering district plan zoning categories and existing patterns of developments, the predominant existing development patterns were identied for the case studies. Predominant existing development patterns identied in New Lynn, Methuen Road and Glen Innes are low density while the same in Sandringham Road and Richmond Road are medium density and Wellington Street and Grafton have high density urban form characteristics. Data collection. Most of the household, population and relevant quantitative data for the case studies were collected from the Statistics New Zealand census data (Statistics New Zealand, 1996 and 2001) at mesh block levels. These case studies could contain one or more than one mesh block within their site boundaries. Other useful data was collected from research reports and publications. Rapid visual survey and photographic accounting were undertaken in order to comprehend the three-dimensional nature of the urban fabric and its respective urban design qualities. Calculations. The dwelling densities were calculated per hectare considering total number of dwellings calculated from the census data and aerial photographs for a particular year. Similarly, for a particular year, potential total household numbers were estimated considering total number of households from Statistics New Zealand census data (1996 and 2001), population growth rate and available built up areas. The average household size adopted for the Auckland Region for this study is 2.9 persons per household. Total numbers of plots/subdivisions were calculated for the case studies, and overall average plot sizes in square metres were obtained by dividing total site area, except road area, by the total number of plots/subdivisions. The calculated values of overall average plot/subdivision areas for all case studies are presented in Table 3. It is very interesting to note the variations of overall average plot sizes in these urban forms. New Lynn with density of 10 dwellings per hectare has comparatively larger overall average plot size of 880 m2/ plot than Glen Innes with 12 dwellings per hectare at 762 m2/ plot, whereas the medium density urban form Sandringham Road and low density New Lynn have similar values of overall average plot/subdivision sizes. Land use pattern: spatial analysis. Spatial pattern analyses were conducted using Geographic Information System (GIS) for ve residential case study urban forms (New Lynn, Methuen Road, Sandringham Road, Richmond Road and Wellington Street) with aerial photographs from 1994 (Ghosh, 2004). Following this, similar analyses for two other urban forms (Glen Innes and Grafton) with aerial photographs from 2002 were conducted (Ghosh & Vale, 2006a). Total existing land use distributions in hectares and the basic land use distribution descriptors in square metres are calculated per average household for the Auckland Region in the

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Table 3. Basic descriptors of urban forms

Low density Low rise Large single semidetached houses, generous open spaces around dwelling and long driveways Single and semidetached houses and housing units, moderate front and rear open spaces and shorter driveways Sandringham Road 56 Residential 6a, 6b and 7a 1994 1994 Residential 1 23 ,2 Residential 7a Richmond Road Wellington Street Single storey, detached, EdwardianVictorian character houses, off-street parking, pedestrian access Attached double terrace and single storey, semi-detached houses, common open spaces, small private courtyards and very short driveway Medium density Medium rise Medium density Medium rise (Heritage) High density Medium rise Inner city/Close to inner city High density Medium rise Attached double storied town houses, gated communities, small private courtyards and common open spaces and driveways Grafton ,2 Residential 8 Currently under plan modications 1994 2002


Urban form Neighbourhood/ Community scale

Suburban Low density Low rise

Low density Low rise

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Local/ Residential Block scale

Large detached houses, generous open spaces around dwelling and long driveway

Large detached houses, generous open spaces around dwelling and long driveways

Residential Urban Form case studies 89 Residential 5 and 6a

New Lynn

Glen Innes

Methuen Road

Distance to CBD (km)

9 10


District Plan zoning categories 1994

Living Environment 1

Plan change Residential 5, 6a & 7b to 8a & 8b

Data year



ESTIMATED BASIC DESCRIPTORS 8.25 63 1119 115 14 108 16 885 59 6.72 3.13 65 337 65 21 3.56 101 264 103 29 2.77 118 215 118 43

Site area in hectares (ha)



Total nos. of plots



Average plot area (m2) except road



Total estimated nos. of dwellings



Dwelling density/ hectare



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Total estimated 53 nos. of households* 1.6133 1.6134 0.87133 0.6267






106 0.6258

Built-up roof area: Total (hectares) m2/ household 1.297 1.5125 0.94144 0.8986



Road space area: Total (hectares) m2/ household 2.1181 1.2102 0.5279 1.1110




Vegetation area: Total (hectares) m2/ household 1.35114 0.6755 0.1726




Impervious areas: Total (hectares) m2/ household 2.0167 1.7138 0.6498





Productive/Open land area: Total (hectares) m2/ household 19.4% 24.1%





Built up roof cov- 13.5% erage as a % of total site area (%)





Typologies and Descriptors of New Zealand Residential Urban Forms

*Note: Average household size of the Auckland Region 2.9 people per household. Source: Ghosh (2004); Ghosh & Vale (2006)



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seven case studies. As a household is the important basic block of human resource use, the descriptors determined per household could provide an effective demonstration of important variations between different physical characteristics of urban forms. Two main land use categories were calculated for each residential urban form case studies: (a) non-productive land use including: total roof areas of buildings; road areas (including half of the site perimeter road width); paved and unpaved pathways and existing vegetation cover (trees and shrubs); and (b) productive land use including: remaining open spaces (Ghosh et al., 2006a, p. 270).

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The terms productive and non-productive refer to the potential of varying spatial distribution patterns of the land contributing towards varying sustainability performance of different residential urban forms (Ghosh et al., 2007, p. 358). Land use pattern analyses for the case studies were conducted for their total site area, built up area, road area, vegetation cover, impervious areas and productive or open land areas in hectares (Ghosh, 2004; Ghosh & Vale, 2006a). Impervious areas include pedestrian pathways, paved driveways and built impervious or paved courtyards. Figure 8 presents land use pattern for Glen Innes. Basic descriptors: case studies. The basic descriptors include household density per hectare; dwelling density per hectare; overall average plot area in square metres; percentage of built up roof coverage and total and different land uses (built up roof; vegetation cover; impervious; and productive or open land) areas in square metres per household. Considering all these seven case studies together, basic descriptors were calculated and are presented in Table 3.

Discussions Table 3 quanties various aspects of different urban form characteristics, such as densities, zoning and location and estimated basic descriptors for the seven case studies. For example, while the lowest density urban form, New Lynn at 10 dwellings/ha, has 256 m2 of road space per household, low density low rise Glen Innes, at 12 dwellings/ha, has only 61 m2 of road space per household, less than any other except high density medium rise Grafton at 22 m2/household. The calculated built up roof areas per household for low density low rise (New Lynn, Methuen Road) and medium density medium rise (Sandringham

Figure 8. Land use pattern: Glen Innes

Typologies and Descriptors of New Zealand Residential Urban Forms


Road and Richmond Road) are similar. Impervious area per household for Grafton is equal to 76 m2/ household which is a lot higher than the two medium density medium rise developments (Sandringham Road has 55 m2/household and Richmond Road has 26 m2/household) and not signicantly lower compared to the low density low rise Glen Innes at 86 m2/household. Higher availability of productive land areas is associated with low density low rise urban forms compared to medium density medium rise and high density medium rise at various suburban nodes and close to inner-city locations. The physical parameters of different urban patterns relate to their respective sustainability benets and potentials. Impervious areas, such as paved driveways, surfaces and road areas indicate surface sealing which will have critical impacts in reducing ground water recharge; increasing storm water run-off quantity; declining storm water run-off quality and slowing down evapotranspiration capacity (Hasse & Nuissl, 2007, p. 4). Higher vegetation or tree cover indicates possibilities of multiple environmental and ecological benets of improved air quality, reduced heat island effects, improved storm water quality, higher pollutant removal, increased carbon storage and carbon dioxide sequestration capabilities (American Forests, 2008). Higher available productive land areas signify higher possibilities of local food production reducing food miles (Norberg-Hodge, 2004) and increased storm water inltration from porous land surfaces (Hasse & Nuissl, 2007). The orientation and areas of built up roof of different residential environments at development scales could provide important measures of their on site solar generation capabilities using solar water heater and photovoltaic (PV) modules (Ghosh & Vale, 2006b) and roof rain water harvesting potential (Vale & Ghosh, 2006). In 2006, Gupta developed a GIS based The DECoRUM tool to measure the domestic energy use and baseline carbon dioxide emissions from individual dwellings which are then aggregated to provide an estimate of total emissions at street, district or urban scales (Gupta, 2006). An Oxford case study at a neighbourhood scale conducted by Gupta, which considered 318 dwellings, indicated that 72% of the dwellings could accommodate a solar hot water system with 4 m2 area and 75% dwellings were suitable for 1kWp solar PV system (Gupta, 2006). A development scale tool Solar Access for Lots (SAL) by Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA), Sydney, NSW uses a lot labelling methodology using star rating (1 star to 5 stars) to assess good solar access to lots or plots or subdivisions considering solar orientation and access, exible solar access zones and lot width (SEDA, 2007). To illustrate the potential sustainability implications of the taxonomy/ descriptors the paper will now discuss the example of solar energy. Further research has been carried out on the Glen Innes case study urban form. In 2006, Ghosh & Vale used this case study to calculate potential solar energy contributions and CO2 savings assuming the use of solar panels on existing roofs. The research showed different results for NZ conventional low density suburban residential development. The total available solar efcient roof areas oriented within 45 degrees on either side of north were estimated. Examination showed that 27.4% of the total existing roof areas of the houses could be described as solar efcient, which is also a physical characteristic of an urban form. Assuming placement of solar hot water units and photovoltaic modules on these available solar efcient roof areas, solar energy utilization potential of these roofs were estimated for both full and partial utilization scenarios. However, due to the size and shape

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of available solar panels, and roof forms and their orientations, the buildings realistically could use only 58% of the total available solar efcient roof areas, meaning that 42% of the solar efcient roof areas would be lost due to inappropriate roof designs. Enhanced potential solar contributions and CO2 savings with changes in roof congurations using a gable end roof rather than a hip roof were also estimated. The outcomes suggest that except for space conditioning, with minimal changes in roof conguration, the residential roof-tops could contribute up to 82.5% of domestic energy requirements for a full utilization scenario and 69% of that for a partial utilization scenario which could deliver 1.4 tons of carbon dioxide reduction potential per capita per year (Ghosh & Vale, 2006b, p. 223). The low density development at Glen Innes with its roof area of 103 m2 per household can achieve this potential, whereas the high density development at Grafton has only roof area of 58 m2 per household, and therefore has a comparatively lower potential for solar generation from roofs when calculated on a household basis. Therefore, high density development would need to supplement required photovoltaic panels for solar energy generation at alternative locations considering particular form specic characteristics. In order to allow enhanced solar energy generation in higher density developments, additional solar photovoltaic panels could be installed on the building facades, as observed in the K2 apartments, Melbourne (The Ofce of Housing, 2007) and also as building integrated photovoltaic (BiPV) modules, for example, in the mixed use Kogarah town centre, Sydney, Australia (Kogarah Council, 2007). Grid connected PV panels that could generate more than demand, could supply back the surplus electricity to the network (BCSE, 2008, p. 8) to obtain renewable energy generation benets. The lower density developments with larger single detached houses could have sufcient roof areas to generate enough solar electricity to satisfy the demand for the residents. In terms of actual performance, available solar efcient roof areas in the Glen Innes conventional low density urban form are not currently used for generating solar electricity or for solar water heating. Thus actual sustainability performance in terms of potential solar efciency is not yet making any meaningful contribution to the local environmental sustainability performance of Glen Innes. Conclusions The measurement of an urban form at a neighbourhood scale is relatively new. The implications from these basic descriptors formulated in the context of three (low, medium and high density) types of local scale residential case studies suggest that appropriate site layouts and physical design characteristics of urban forms for all densities are very important to understand their respective environmental sustainability potential. Sub-categories of different urban forms classied under one category could vary among themselves, such as the characteristics of medium density medium rise and medium density high rise urban forms and could also differ between categories, such as the characteristics of low and medium density forms. Form-specic sustainability guidelines would be required at a local scale to retrot existing buildings and to develop new environmentally responsive urban forms. In future, using the context-potentialperformance framework, new comprehensive sets of urban descriptors could be formulated for various urban form typologies at neighbourhood and local scales. Potential descriptors could function as benchmarks for environmental

Typologies and Descriptors of New Zealand Residential Urban Forms


sustainability appraisals. Further research would be required to determine actual performance descriptors relating to community behaviour patterns. These performance descriptors would be able to assess directly post-occupancy environmental performances of these urban forms to ensure that the intended outcomes are being achieved in practice.

Acknowledgements The authors would like to acknowledge the support of the FRST funded Learning Sustainability programme involving Landcare Research in collaboration with Opus International Consultants Ltd and the University of Auckland. They would also like to thank anonymous referees for their important comments and their colleagues, particularly Dr Daniel Rutledge, for their suggestions. Many thanks to all who provided enormous help in sourcing relevant materials.

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