Artspace Round Table Discussion 18 Aug 2015 Housing in Auckland

19 August 2015

Artspace / A+W•NZ  Round Table Discussion. Tuesday 18 August, 6pm.

The Common: Communal Housing and Public Space.

To compliment the current exhibition RE-NEGOTIATION by Marysia Lewandowska (July 18 - August 26, 2015) Architecture+Women•NZ hosted a round table discussion on Communism, Capitalism and Commons, topics covered by Polish born London / Hong Kong based artist Marysia Lewandowska in her recent film, Triple C. Editing the Century (2015) and the open source project Women’s Audio Archive (1984-1990).

We think the combination of the documentation of women's history, art and architecture is a good fit with A+W•NZ, and were honoured to collaborate with Artspace for this event.

A mix of panel members were invited to share their thoughts on the very difficult issue of housing developments in Auckland, all with experience and expertise in their respective fields of interest.

Panel Members (in alphabetical order):

Sue Evans  architectural advisor to Auckland Waterfont and Housing NZ, experience in Public Space development and housing projects.
Amanda Hyde de Krester  architectural advisor, urban and housing planning. Practitioner and academic. Currently contributing to Tamaki Development project.
Gary Lawson Registered architect, Director, Stevens Lawson Architects Ltd. Housing developments for collectively-owned groups and private developers.
Biddy Livesey Urban Management advisor, land ownership issues / housing development on Maori land, biodiversity.
Bill McKay architectural critic, academic, author. Senior Lecturer, NICAI, The University of Auckland (‘Beyond the State’ with Andrea Stevens, Penguin 2014)
Tamati Patuwai artist, performer, community worker, environmentalist. Mad Ave Studios. (‘River Talks’, Omaru River, Glen Innes.)
Kimberley Read architectural graduate, Bureaux Ltd (Artspace redevlopment), Thesis topic examined how architecture could operate politically in the public realm.
Albert Refiti academic, Senior Lecturer AUT School of Spatial Design, Pacific architecture and concepts of space.

Kathy Waghorn  academic, Senior Lecturer, NICAI, The University of Auckland, Public Space and Performance, community-led projects.

The discussion began politely as each member presented their perspective on the provocations, and as the evening continued the passion and wisdom of the panel revealed itself to the crowd of approximately 60 people. The momentum of discussion grew, and as the discussion opened to the floor it became very difficult to end it as we ran overtime. The conversation continued between panel members and the audience informally and could have gone on for much, much longer.

Negotiating the conversation of communal housing is always undoubtably complex and the panel provided a broad range of thoughts, perspectives, examples and personal feelings about the topic. We're feeling uplifted by the many connections made & reformed across the disciplines and, quite literally, around the circle.                                                            

The questions posed to the panel were:

From A+W•NZ;

  1. Communal Housing in Auckland - should 'communal space' be part of the State Housing design brief as it moves toward privitisation?
  2. Why is the courtyard house typology resisted in New Zealand, given the history of malae / atea space examples in the Pacific?
  3. Financial structures have more bearing on housing typology than architectural and planning guidelines. Are there examples of how communally-owned housing developments can avoid the usual financial lending restrictions which propagate individual ownership and land titles (and therefore building and urban form)?

From Marysia Lewandowska;

  1. What are the specific examples of artists practices concerning the alternative economies of art that encourage public ownership and commoning in New Zealand?
  2. What is the role of art institutions in shaping future relationships regarding knowledge commons?


Artspace has provided a link to the film being shown in the gallery, by artist Marysia Lewandowska here;

The film covers the first female Austrian architect, Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky (1897-2000), who visited China in the 1950s and examines communal housing through a communist and capitalist lens.
Lewandowska’s open source project Women’s Audio Archive (1984-1990) presents some of the collected audio recordings that the artist has made between 1983 until 1990. They document public events, seminars, talks, conferences, and private conversations of artists of that era, and the project includes the participation of Judy Chicago, Mary Kelly, Barbara Kruger, Yvonne Rainer, Jo Spence, Nancy Spero, Jane Weinstock, and others, in a variety of settings.

Thank you to everyone who attended, participated and to Artspace for being great hosts and inviting us to facilitate the event.

Also, and of course, if you haven't been in to see the exhibition RE:NEGOTIATION by Marysia Lewandowska you have until the 26th of August to do so!

Thank you to Resene for their constant support.


We appreciate feedback from the event, and invite those who participated and attended to provide their thoughts, to keep the conversation going until our next round table discussion.

Martin Awa Clarke Langdon (Tainui) - artist

'I attended a few events in the last week the first was the Architecture+Women NZ event held at Artspace. - The Common: Housing in Auckland.

Here are my take away thoughts:
Building new communities under the guise of addressing Auckland's housing shortage seems to be a bit of idealistic wrapping paper on another issue related to the problem.
It seemed unanimously expressed by the guest speakers that intensification of housing/dwelling closer to main hubs and public transport is a must for the problem at hand. The building of 'new communities' on the out skirts of town do not fit this profile of a 'solution', they still divert into the now increasing traffic problem. Is it me or does this start seeming nonsensical?
My thought is that 'community' and redefining what for the 'common good' of urban planning a future-proof Auckland holistic structure will require attitudinal shift. Attitudinal shift from the vanguard of inner Auckland 'home owners' or dear I say it - that pedestaled term 'rate payers' of large single dwelling properties. They will need to concede their suburban dreams no longer exist where they currently live. Admit the city is expanding but the increased population and expansion could be less about radiating outwards. The continued blocking of intensification in these 'given' close quarter areas is the real problem or shall we say Achilles heel to future proofing. I believe this fear of increased population in established areas is also linked to the unwillingness to share or expand their sense of 'community', worried about maintaining the 'property cost to clientele' intensification will bring - learn to relax your boarder control it is a fleeting venture .
On that note one of the speakers Biddy brought up a good point - rate payers and exorbitant rent payers really deserve equal say on urban planning decisions. Renters are still indirectly paying rates too.
Just saying.
These are some thought taken from the kōrero at art space. Everyone has a plan and although there's is some good development going on I thought I'd take a stab at describing the emperors clothing
PS THIS WILL REQUIRE SOME EDITING. Purely responsive thoughts at this stage.'