“Free-Standing, Wooden, Upright”: The Evolving Cladding and Structure of the New Zealand House, 1858–1981
The timber-framed, weather-board-clad, corrugated-iron-roofed, stand-alone building has become the image of New Zealand housing. Its evolution is explored using census data from 1858 to 1981 for walls and from 1961 to 1981 for the roof. Four wall claddings (wood, brick, boards and concrete) were used in two-thirds or more of dwellings. The 1981 census reported 46 percent had timber cladding but analysis shows 85 percent had timber framing (structure). Timber cladding has been replaced by materials including brick-veneer and fibre-cement boards. From the 1970s, concrete walls became more widely used, replacing both structure and cladding. In 1981, 90 percent of roofs were corrugated, galvanised iron or tiles, while 55 percent of all dwellings had both a corrugated-iron roof and timber framing. While popular opinion considered timber construction as little better than temporary, the ready availability of timber and industry creativity in these seismically active islands have ensured the ongoing importance of timber housing.
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