About the Quarter-hour Paradise initiative
Not at all! The quarter-hour paradise concept is based on universal human needs and non-negotiable things like physics and physiology. We’re starting in the Wellington region because that’s where the current team lives, but as soon as we can we’ll be making all our infrastructure available to anyone wanting to run a quarter-hour paradise movement in their town. Even small rural towns can be quarter-hour paradises, in their centres rather than their outskirts.
We reckon the Wellington region (and urban Aotearoa generally) can have a much better future, and start enjoying it faster, if towns get lots of community empowerment that energises and directs decisions – resulting in lots more people able to live in quarter-hour paradise neighbourhoods.
The changes we want to see are twofold: lots more good civic activity, and lots more good neighbourhood change.
Nope. We can spot “decent” and “not good enough” at fifty paces, though, and believe everyone should be able to cast an informed eye over the kinds of development being served up in their neighbourhoods. To that end, we’ll point out good stuff and point out bad stuff.
We firmly believe that all NZ towns Te Upoko o te Ika deserves good development as much as any other city, and if local developers aren’t up for change there are plenty who can come in and do better.
First, check out the Explore page, then dive into the Technical detail of each location.
If you’ve got more questions, please drop us a line.
We are happy to share all our materials and supporting infrastructure with anyone who’s genuinely wanting to get quarter-hour paradises growing in their town. Drop us a line below.
About quarter-hour paradises generally
No. Like anything, density can be done badly and so can intensification. We don’t want to see density done badly anywhere.
Importantly, though, density can be done in a messy, uncoordinated way and still – if it’s got the “density done well” foundations right – end up being better for communities than no change. The perfect mustn’t be the enemy of the good, and QHP is about making sure towns can get a good handle on what’s “good enough”.
As New Zealand is so late to the party of density done well, the complex system of professions, industries and institutions that produces our built environments will be learning fast, and scaling up hard, over the next few years.
So it’s very important that communities can be clear, constructive and well-informed:
- about what “good enough” looks and feels like
- about what’s worth taking the time to get right first
- about what’s a problem that communities can sort out as they go.
Quarter-hour Paradise is here to help those conversations happen.
Yes. A big part of why it’s hard to do those kinds of things is local resistance to change, and one big part of that is because it’s hard to see how different changes all work together to create a great place to live.
Quarter-hour Paradise is trying to make these connections more obvious, and we believe there’s plenty of people out there who’ll see this and feel empowered to show their support for good stuff. And to apply pressure to make sure good stuff gets done well!
Alone, no – but the patchwork of progress is complex and dynamic. With all the other stuff going on, it’s clear that some small shifts in the local politics may have quite big impacts.
It’s certainly clear that there’s a gap in the social media ecosystem for constructive, curious, forward-looking conversation about intensification and pro-people street change. QHP can provide some little oases in the otherwise quite fraught, under-informed and often toxic public conversation space.
It’s also clear that politicians currently pay a lot of attention to Facebook and so on, using them as a barometer of “community feeling”, and will definitely notice such oases and their popularity.
If all else fails, QHP will create accumulated resources of good information and local connections in the discussion threads each week, which are searchable and easy to go back to. This will be a potent fuel for people in communities to organise and do changemaking in your own neighbourhood: you can find those cool people, and those cool links, and start having a cuppa together…
New Zealand needs to pull all the levers and turn all the knobs in the system – and make up some brand new ones.
We can’t wait for the big systemic things to be fixed before we start doing better on the ground, and we also can’t pretend that we can do great on the ground when big features of the system are pushing against it.
QHP is about helping communities say “no it’s not good enough that these big things are wrong, we want them to be like this instead” and in the meantime, getting on with making good change that’s locally meaningful.
Correct. QHP is about the form and function of the places most of us live day to day, because change there is particularly powerful:
Having a quarter-hour paradise life makes an immense difference for people day to day, for all aspects of your wellbeing. And like every good systemic change, it makes the biggest difference for people doing it tough.
In climate-heating terms, the single best thing NZers living in towns can do is precisely the biggest effect of the quarter-hour paradise: travelling far less everyday to do the stuff of daily life, and needing private cars less overall. That’s quite a win-win!
There’s a few larger “catchments” or “sheds” around the core of a quarter-hour paradise, illustrated here for the 15-minute city. Things like regional sports facilities are in that wider range, but they’re a big travel-generator for many families.
QHP are very supportive of the plethora of great initiatives tackling the system beyond the “neighbourhood” or walkable local scale, and this mahi complements that very well.
If you want to keep living in a detached house, good onya – you’ll keep on having plenty of choice!
The housing supply in Wellington (and New Zealand in general) is almost nothing but, and has been for the past 80+ years. The problem is that there’s a vast “missing middle” of housing types that’re denser than townhouses, but less dense than tall apartment blocks.
Because a quarter-hour paradise is, by definition, in a centre (where there’s better access to jobs, amenities and services) and because our region is vastly covered by low-density, “residential only” suburbs where it makes little sense to intensify, there’s going to be a huge, enduring expanse of traditional detached houses for those who prefer that.
Yes, detached houses have been getting bigger and yes, property developers, construction firms and real estate companies are all saying “this is what the market wants”. But that simply illustrates that there’s one single product that makes companies the best money, easiest, fastest. And that’s because that’s the one product NZ’s entire system is set up to pump out, far better than anything else.
Considering “market hesitancy” about buying a home in density, you can’t discount the crisis of imagination. Most New Zealanders have never experienced what life in density done well is like, so we’re instinctively biassed against something we don’t know. Add to this the media reports about the damage to apartment owners’ financial health inflicted by the inexperienced fumblings of our construction, regulatory, insurance and legal systems, and we can say NZ is currently at “peak aversion” to density.
And it’s not even universally true that the present-day market dislikes dense housing. Even now, homes in denser arrangements (even without “good life” staples like private lawn and garage) are being snapped up by those with the wherewithal to afford them in a housing bubble.
The Quarter-hour Paradise is helping people make change in two ways: region-wide, and locally around anyone who’s keen to use the ideas.
Region-wide, we’re hoping that this concept becomes commonplace and a powerful tool for growing better places in all the urban centres. So by helping Quarter-hour Paradise itself, you’re improving the odds of landing in a better place!
Locally, wherever you are, Quarter-hour Paradise can help you put positive pressure on local leaders, and also help community organising in your (current) neighbourhood. There’s bound to be some good quick changes that a bit of quarter-hour paradise inspiration can help people see, and make happen.
Albeit short term, it’ll be good to feel a bit more agency around your situation (even if it’s just a slightly safer street outside your home, or a better community facility in the next block that you can use).
And having some fellow citizens growing neighbourhood-changing skills together is also empowering, even as people come and go taking and bringing their skills to other neighbourhoods.
As a younger person you’ll be spending more lifetime in our local places than any of the people currently making the big decisions shaping those places! So it’s really important for you to be able to grow your citizenship, and your “civic muscles“, and explore ways you’d like to use them alongside and around existing power structures.
For younger children, it’s extra powerful to see rangatahi exercising leadership in their own ways in their neighbourhoods. So you’d be inspiring others too!
The Quarter-hour Paradise team are very keen to hear your ideas for ways we could support younger people around the region to do this, and see you effecting good neighbourhood change. Please get in touch!
More questions about this movement?
Drop us a line here and it might turn up as an FAQ!