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Hamilton East: Interpretation of house styles and infilling the one acre sections

This thesis elucidates and interprets the social construction of an inner city suburb of Hamilton. Hamilton East was originally surveyed as a military settlement in 1864. The provenance of house styles is examined in the context of particular periods of time, and six commonly constructed period-styles are identified. These are nineteenth century houses, villas, bungalows, standard New Zealand houses, flats, and variations on old themes. In the context of changes in subdivision design since the original survey, three questions related to the location of these houses are addressed. These are: why, where and how was a tiny township infilled with houses to the density of the present suburb? This thesis focuses on the identification and interpretation of meanings implied in house styles and infilling processes. The conditions which determined and contributed to the period-styles in popular housing are explored in detail. The significance of meaning in the built environment is a vital and recurring theme. Housing acts as a form of non-verbal communication. Each period-style functions as a set of symbols. The sign value of a house style is its meaning as a symbol of something else. The meaning functions like a code, shared by the people of the community, and changes over time. Socio-cultural influences include practical and economic considerations. Fashion, demands for decorated or non-decorated architecture, trends in high style architecture, changing lifestyles, changing attitudes to families, and households are identified as determinants of style. The importance of cultural diffusion from the Old and the New Worlds, and increasing and accelerating internationalism are clearly evident in the human landscape. Local and national State intervention in the provision of housing contributed significantly to specific period-styles. Technical innovations have not determined, but have influenced housing styles. They include the available construction materials, and developments associated with the 'machine age' and the production of new materials. The infilling of the original one acre rectangular allotments, with new housing between the settler cottages is explored under five period headings. These are the nineteenth century, the villa period, the bungalow period, the standard New Zealand house period, and the last two decades. Infilling brought a gradual intensification of housing with time and an interesting pastiche of juxtaposed houses. The evolution of the pattern of survey and subdivision is traced from the 1864 surveyed design to the present day pattern. Based on tradition and statute, concerted division created smaller and smaller rectangular sections. The research has drawn upon four forms of data: literature, field data, maps photographs and files, and informal contact with members of the local community. Every one of the more than 2000 houses and flats in the suburb was surveyed for age, style, and other characteristics. Valuation New Zealand files, survey plans, many other historical and contemporary maps, aerial photographs, old photographs, statutes and trade directories were used to compile a detailed record about each of the more than 50 residential blocks, comprising nearly 400 acres (162 hectares) of land. Hamilton East may be seen as a microcosm of New Zealand experience in its subdivision design, road patterns, the processes of infilling and house styles. The provenance of the stylistic and spatial characteristics of housing and sections is articulated as human constructions, determined not by physical circumstances but by people.
Type of thesis
Porteous, D. L. (1991). Hamilton East: Interpretation of house styles and infilling the one acre sections (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/5703
University of Waikato
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