There has often been a mutually beneficial relationship between cities and their rural hinterlands. The Kapiti region outside the city of Wellington in New Zealand is a prime example: it once provided Wellington’s food, water and cultural diversity for both Māori and European settlers. However, productivity-driven agriculture and extensive dormitory-suburbanization have affected significant parts of this once-abundant hinterland. Food production is becoming more mono-cultural, water quality is degrading, ecosystems’ biodiversity is disappearing, provincial town centres are shrinking, emigrating youth are leaving unbalanced demographics, Māori are increasingly disassociating their culture from their traditional lands and natural disasters are causing more impact—all of which is making Kapiti less resilient, and severing the once-healthy city-hinterland relationship. Our work on future settlement opportunities in Kapiti proposes alternatives, using experimental design-led research methods to develop speculative architectural and landscape architectural schemes. The schemes are framed by some of the spatial attributes of resilience: diversity, complexity, redundancy, interconnectivity and adaptability. Collectively, the work reveals design strategies that have a potential to rebuild hinterlands’ culture, town centres, housing, agriculture, community and ecosystems and to recalibrate the broader relationship between hinterlands and metropolitan systems.
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