Regenerative design research

Regenerative design concerns emerging theories on utilising systems thinking, algorithmic problem-solving, knowledge creation and development of unique optimised solutions to complex issues from several proposed options. Our focus is on generating novel resolutions for our current design, construction and manufacturing industry shortfalls. In regenerative design one is always designing for improved wellbeing – mauri – of human and more-than-human systems.

Our collective experiences with ecosystems and resources provide an opportunity to consider how to create positive net solutions that offer ecological benefits and answer the fundamental question: can the built environment really be regenerative? To answer this, we need to know the functions and operations of the built environment networks and dependencies between and within them. Only then can we integrate sustainability and positive change into the way we design and shape our cities.

Building efficiency

Regenerative design takes a whole systems approach incorporating hard and soft systems that take a lifecycle approach to create cradle-to-cradle/circular economy thinking. In this line, buildings are designed for minimum waste of materials, time and energy through utilising the surrounds and providing for longevity and adaptability throughout their life cycles. Feedback loops are incorporated to provide information at each stage of the life cycle (value chain): design, component manufacture, construction, use, maintenance, refurbishment and end-of-life.

Construction and sustainability

This group is also interested in examining the impacts of construction projects on pillars of sustainability and how regenerative design can deal with current legislation focusing on climate change.

Social infrastructure

Concerning the local/regional issues, the team will endeavour to reduce the physical and mental health inequality of New Zealanders through built environments. From an urban perspective, social infrastructure plays significant role in urban regenerative and development. However, there is limited consideration in New Zealand regarding social infrastructure planning for urban development. A research using big data, including council consent approvals, demography statistics data and existing GIS, is essential for proactive planning for growing cities.

Fashion and textile systems

We are also looking at how existing fashion and textile systems – thought to be the second largest polluter in the world – could move towards a regenerative system by looking to natural systems and natures strategies such as biomimicry to build a new textiles ecosystem.

Prior successful funding includes:

  • $100,000 from BRANZ for construction productivity
  • $20,000 from Sequal Lumber for urban equilibrium
  • $1,020,000 from MBIE
  • $71,000 from EQC
  • $80,000 from AUT Ventures and KiwiNet
  • $15,000 from Heavy Engineering Research Association (HERA)
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Dr Ali Ghaffarian Hoseini