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Dr David Turner

Senior Lecturer
School of Architecture
Location: Building 48, Room 2016


B.Arch (Hons), MA (Urb. Des.)(Manchester), PhD (Auckland)

Professional memberships

NZIA Academic Member

Architects Registration Board (UK) 


David has taught and practised architecture in the UK and New Zealand. Originally from Dunedin, he graduated from Manchester University and taught in the School of Architecture there until moving into practice with the Building Design Partnership for two years. He was accepted onto the post-graduate Urban Design Programme at Manchester in 1976, and completed a thesis on dockland regeneration based on Bristol’s 18thC floating harbour.

With a small team, David won a competition for a town centre redevelopment project in southern England, and set up a practice in the city of Bath. The practice developed a reputation in urban planning and architecture including a second competition-winning project in 1983 for a mixed commercial + ‘hi-tech’ industries business scheme in the regeneration of the London Docklands. Urban workplace architecture became one focus of the practice alongside housing and conservation projects, many of them in historic British cities. The practice, re-named Tektus in 1985 was taken over by one of Britain’s largest consultancies in 2005.

In 1994 David returned to New Zealand to join the staff of the new School of Architecture at Unitec. In the architecture programme he has developed courses for environmentally sustainable construction, an innovative approach to design economics, and has taught urban planning and design in the undergraduate programme. In the postgraduate programme he has supervised over 40 completed final year Research Projects.  David also runs two specialised urban housing design electives, one in the Bachelors Programme, and one in the Masters Programme, that address and critique the intersection of architecture and the socio-economic policies that impact on higher density housing typologies.

His doctoral studies focused on the theory and practice of sustainable urban housing in the context of the social habits and environmental conditions of Auckland, and spanned several disciplinary areas - architecture, economics, planning and philosophy. This research led to Best Practice research and reports on higher density housing design commissioned by Housing New Zealand, and to invitations to advise Auckland Council’s Property company (now Panuku Ltd), on strategies for intensification planning. David’s PhD thesis is available here:  Current research interests are also informed by his work as a member of Auckland Council’s Urban Design Panel since 2012, and focus on the various impacts of increased density resulting from social and city planning policy. From 2007 to 2017 David drew on his experience in professional practice and his research to run annual CPD courses for consultancies in the city.


Turner, D.F. (2022). Courtyard housing: a mid-density alternative. Architecture Now, ArchitectureNow (Vol. 26 October 2022).

Turner, D.F. (2022). From terraces to Deco - 'first editions' in Auckland's high density housing. Architecture Now (Vol. 28 February 2022).

Turner, D.F. (2021). Anti-social distancing. Architecture Now (Vol. 16 June 2021).

Turner, D.F., Wagner, C., Melchiors, L., & Wang, X. (2021). Resource Management Act (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Bill 116288 Submission by Unitec Housing Research Group. Wellington, Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (Vol. 22 November 2021).

Turner, D. (2021). Suburban Styles: Housing design at higher densities in Aotearoa New Zealand. Asylum 2021, Unitec ePress (Vol. 1).

Turner, D. (2020). Anti-social distancing: Revisiting Auckland's Unitary Plan. Asylum 2020, Unitec ePress (Vol. 1).

Turner, D.F. (2019). Six rules for housing design in the city. Architecture Now (Vol. 22 August 2019).

Turner, D. F. (2019). The Vertical Picturesque: Four Essays on Auckland Houses. C. Schnoor & G. McConchie, Architecture New Zealand (Vol. Nov-Dec 2019).

Turner, D.F. (2018). Lessons in Density: approaches to teaching housing design for higher densities. Associate Professor Priya Rajagopalan, Engaging Architectural Science: Meeting the Challenges of Higher Density (Vol. 1).

Turner, D. F. (2015). Whole building recycling as a waste reduction practice. In M. Panko and L. Kestle, Building Today - Saving Tomorrow: Construction And Deconstruction Conference.

Turner, D. F. (2014). Contingent interpretations: Unreliable memories in stories of New Zealand architecture. In C. Schnoor, Proceedings of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand: 31, Translation.

Murphy, C., Wake, S. J., Turner, D., McConchie, G., and Rhodes, D. (2010). On the edge: Cross-disciplinary & intra-disciplinary connections in architectural science. Conference Proceedings (Book/CD-Rom) of the 44th Annual Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Architectural Science Association. Departments of Architecture & Landscape Architecture, Unitec: Auckland, New Zealand.

Turner, D. F. (2010). Compacting Suburbia: a case for moving buildings. Murphy C., Wake S.J.,Turner D., McConchie G., Rhodes D. (Eds). On the edge. Conference Proceedings of the 44th Annual Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Architectural Science Association (ANZASCA 2010).

Turner, D. F. (2010). Planning for higher density: Habits of privacy in Auckland's culture of housing. Doctor of Philosophy in Planning, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.

Turner, D. (2009). What time is this place? Scala Seminar Series.

Turner, D. F. (2009). Integrating education and industry: the academic perspective. Re-informing concepts of sustainability in theory & practice of Architecture: a symposium to review current positions, Unitec Institute of Technology, Department of Architecture. 9 October.

Turner, D. F., and Su, B. (2006). Economics and design in medium density housing. Proceedings of ANZAScA 2006 - Challenges for Architectural Science in Changing Climates (40th Annual Conference of the Architectural Science Association ANZAScA), University of Adelaide, Australia.

Turner, D., & Su, B. (2005). A classification methodology for medium density housing based on site layout analysis. In H. Skates, L. Christie, A. Rogerson, A. Melling, & A. Tonks (Eds.), Unofficial proceedings of the 39th Annual Architectural Science Association Conference 'Fabricating sustainability' (CD Rom ed., pp. 13). Wellington: Victoria University. Paper presented at the 39th Annual Conference of the Architectural Science Association 'Fabricating sustainability', 17-19 November, Wellington.

Su, B., Turner, D., Hewitt, J., & Wagner, C. (2005). Case study of medium and high density housing development in Auckland region. In S. Pratt & C. E. Davies (Eds.), The 5th Asia Pacific Conference on Sustainable Energy and Environmental Technologies, proceedings (pp. 74-79). Palmerston North: Massy University. Paper presented at the APCSEET 2005 Conference, 8-11 May, Wellington.

Su, B., Turner, D., Hewitt, J., & Wagner, C. (2005). Study of sustainable medium and high density housing development. In T. Hara (Ed.), 'Collaboration and harmonisation in creative systems', Proceedings of the 3rd International Structural Engineering and Construction conference (Vol. 1, pp. 453-459). London: Taylor & Francis Group. Paper presented at the 3rd International Structural Engineering and Construction Conference (ISEC-03), 20-23 September, Shunan, Japan.

Turner, D., Hewitt, J., Wagner, C., Su, B., & Davies, K. (2004). Best practice in medium density housing design (Report to Housing New Zealand Corporation). Auckland, New Zealand.