Building integrated carbon storage – Case study: The Living Pā

Name of case study

The Living Pā 


Wellington, New Zealand


2020 – 2024


 Building/single site scale

Area / size

 3000 m2

NbS employed

Building-integrated carbon storage

Type of NbS

Engineered interventions (not using vegetation)


Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington (VUW)


Victoria University of Wellington


NZD 35 million in 2019, projected to be NZD 61 million by completion

Design group

Tennent Brown Architects, Dunning Thornton

Fig 1: Illustration by
Fig 2: David Unwin / The Post. The Living Pā under construction.
Climate change benefits

Increased temperatures, Indirect health, social, and cultural climate change impacts

Societal / socio-cultural benefits

 Climate change adaptation, Economic and social development, Rights / empowerment / equality / tino rangatiratanga

Ecological benefits

Climate regulation, Education and knowledge, Mana (pride), whakamana (empowerment), tino rangatiratanga (sovereignty), Social justice and equity

Summary of case study

The Living Pā is the redevelopment of 42 to 50 Kelburn Parade in Wellington to house Kawa-a Maui. Previously this was five villas in front of Te Tumu Herenga Waka, the VUW wharenui (carved house) built more than thirty years ago. It is a proposal to transform the way we realise our culture and values by drawing together mātauranga Māori and sustainability practices. The project integrates indigenous knowledge, cultural values, and traditional building practices into its design and implementation. This includes incorporating Māori architecture, materials, and cultural symbolism, respecting Indigenous rights and protocols, and engaging with local communities to ensure cultural relevance and authenticity (Victoria University of Wellington, 2024). The sustainable practices and living building features of the Living Pā project will have positive effects on local ecosystems and biodiversity health, which include habitat preservation, reduced resource consumption, improved water and air quality, and the promotion of biodiversity through green spaces and landscaping (Victoria University of Wellington, 2024). As a purpose built living lab, the Living Pā will be an incubator for innovation, and a place for multiple communities and disciplines to come together to discuss how we can build a more equitable, fair, and sustainable society. The Living Pā will be the home for Te Kawa a Māui, Te Herenga Waka Marae, Ngāi Tauira (Māori students association), Āwhina (support services), the Sustainability Office, and the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Māori).
Tennent Brown Architects states that the project will store a greater amount of kgCO2e across modules A1-A5 than its initial carbon footprint (Tennent Brown, 2024). This indicates that the building will capture and store more carbon than is emitted during the production of the materials used, contributing to long-term carbon storage. By sequestering more carbon than its embodied carbon footprint and adhering to rigorous sustainability standards (it is a Living Building Challenge building), the Living Pā project contributes to climate change mitigation (Midrise Wood Construction, 2023). It aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote sustainable land use, and encourage the adoption of regenerative design practices. The structural engineering firm Dunning Thornton has created a cross-laminated timber (CLT) building system with seismic technology designed to minimise damage during earthquakes (Tennent Brown, 2024). This system can be prefabricated off-site and assembled either horizontally or vertically. The timber for the project has come from iwi-owned sustainable forests and is manufactured entirely within Aotearoa New Zealand (Midrise Wood Construction, 2023).


Further resources

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