Morten Gjerde Research

Research interests 

Urban design

This field of study evaluates the characteristics of the spaces between individual buildings. One branch of my research contributes to the developing body of knowledge about how control or regulation of change can enhance the outcomes. Another is concerned with the qualities of housing at higher densities.

Architectural tectonics

This research explores the relationship between the fabric of the built form and the design intentions that have shaped them. My research in this area is focussed on performance and how this can be enhanced through design and management.

Building management

This research is concerned with the transformation processes that bring new building projects, including alterations to existing facilities, into being. The foundation for this area of research is management processes. My interests extend beyond the project, per se, into the active use of a building and how performance can be enhanced through management. 

Current research

Design guidance and control: The effect on New Zealand Streetscapes

This project, the subject of current doctoral research, has been conceived largely around experiences gained by working with local government bodies to review and evaluate development proposals in the context of the Resource Management Act. The research is motivated by the following question:

In light of the variety of methods being used to control the design outcomes of infill development in New Zealand, which of these might be most appropriate to achieve well-liked streetscapes?

Using methods developed in the field of social science research, the project will enable better understanding of how people perceive and evaluate the built environment and, armed with this knowledge, determine those design control methods that are best suited to generate change that people like.

Other anticipated project outcomes include development of a methodology for consulting with memebers of the public around their sensory preferences for urban settings and recommendations for best practice design control in New Zealand cities.

Fitting thermal mass into homes to improve energy efficiency and comfort levels

This funded research project looks at the effectiveness of fitting various forms of thermal mass into existing lightweight timber frame houses in New Zealand. After defining six house typologies, each of which is linked to a distinct period of New Zealand's history, the houses are modelled using thermal analysis software. Different scenarios for inserting thermal mass into the homes are conceived and then analysed through desktop analysis. Along with quantifying the effect of each intervention on thermal comfort levels and on energy use over a full year, the project quantifies the cost of each to enable a benefit to cost comparison. Preliminary findings of the research have been presented to the New Zealand Concrete Society annual conference.

Infill medium-density housing in New Zealand

As part of the United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) Visions for Change young people in New Zealand were recently surveyed. Their single greatest fear – affecting 34% of the respondents – is that they will end up living in an apartment without adequate access to outdoor space. In part their response reflects a disappointment that many won't be able to achieve suburban lifestyles. More importantly, it can be traced back to a lack of positive examples of medium density residential development in New Zealand; dwellings that provide sufficient levels of amenity, that fit well with their setting and that provide opportunities for convenient access to services and recreational activities.

This on-going research thread evaluates medium-density housing typologies in New Zealand and references other examples from overseas. A key aim of the project is to determine the extent to which the indentified typologies are appropriate in a New Zealand context. This research is informed by and informs the studio and theory based courses I teach. Research outcomes are in part achieved through inquiry-by-design methods. 

I look to relate the outcomes of my research to my teaching and professional endeavours. Similarly, my practice activities help generate ideas for new research and enable me to test the outcomes of these projects. I particularly value the working relationships I have developed with a range of local government bodies throughout New Zealand.

Full list of publications by Morten Gjerde

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