Video: Making social housing healthy & sustainable

We held a seminar with speakers Simon Novak and Lara Rangiwhetu. Much of NZ’s housing stock, particularly rental, is cold and in poor condition and this has impacts on health. Social housing is often home to the most vulnerable so can remediation of social housing make a difference? See the video .

Making social housing healthy and sustainable

Te Māra Apartments in Mount Cook, Wellington was recently completed on the site of a demolished apartment block as part of Wellington City Council’s (WCC) ambitious project to upgrade its stock of social housing. The complex is WCC’s largest social housing design and new build for many years. Architecture firm Novak+Middleton designed the new housing to provide safe, warm, healthy homes and a sense of community for the tenants. Their design makes better use of the site to allow twice as many apartments, while taking into account changes in future demand.

The design and construction is adaptable, modular, prefabricated and well integrated into the surrounding urban environment. Lead architect Simon Novak will speak about this NZ Institute of Architects award winning design.

As part of her PhD work Lara Rangiwhetu evaluated several social housing remediation projects, including Te Māra, at the housing, complex and community level. She will speak about her findings on changes in indoor temperature as a result of the upgrades and the potential impacts on tenants’ health. Lara’s work has led to further evaluation being undertaken to understand the impact of the remediation on tenants’ health, social connections and safety.

Presentation: Lara Rangiwhetu, Evaluating social housing tenants’ wellbeing, pdf
Presentation: Simon Novak, Making social housing healthy and sustainable, pdf

Te Māra Apartments, Mount Cook, Wellington


Simon Novak is the director of Wellington architecture firm Novak+Middleton. Simon has over twenty years of experience in the field and has been working on social housing for a number of years throughout New Zealand.

Lara Rangiwhetu recently completed her PhD in the Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington. Lara’s research focussed on evaluating the upgrade of Arlington, Wellington City Council’s largest social housing site (now renamed Te Māra) as well as other urban regeneration projects. Her research interests include social justice, equity and wellbeing. 

This seminar took place on Wednesday 25 September 2019 at the Adam Auditorium, City Gallery, 101 Wakefield St, Wellington.

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