Housing Matters 2: Quality medium density

Back to Resources

Lessons learned in North America

In July 2015 20 New Zealanders went on a study tour of Vancouver, Seattle and Portland.  The goal ?  To experience successful medium density solutions in both suburban and inner city settings.


Why Vancouver, Seattle, Portland?

New Zealand can learn a lot about meeting housing demand and addressing affordability from the variety of approaches to increasing density in Vancouver, Seattle and Portland.

These cities share our challenge of meeting growing housing demand and addressing affordability.  Two million more people are predicted to live in the greater Seattle area in the next 10 years, and 1,300,000 more people expected to arrive in Portland by 2035. In Seattle over one household in six spends more than half their incomes on housing.  An average two-storey house in Vancouver is so unattainable, people could find themselves spending 90.6% of their pretax household income on home ownership costs.

The difference is, these cities have already taken steps to address these issues.  Some strategies have been successful, some less so.  It’s true that no single city is going to provide all the answers, but there is plenty to be learned.


The workshopHigh Point, Seattle

Led by study tour participants, this Housing Matters workshop explored medium density done well, pocket neighbourhoods, gentle and invisible density, pathways to affordable housing, and more.

Speakers included:

  • Mark Teesdale (CERA)
  • Tony Gracie (Fletcher Living)
  • Katelyn Orton (CERA)
  • Verney Ryan (Beacon Pathway)

The presentations are available below.

Subscribe to Housing Matters mailing list

* indicates required