What is MDH?



Regional rules & guides



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Special character areas

Some local authorities have additional rules and controls in place to maintain the sense of history and place.

Form and location

Form and location refers to the placement and arrangement of dwellings and their surroundings on the site.


Aesthetics are highly subjective and depend a great deal on the characteristics of the surrounding environment.


It’s not possible to provide a design guide to suit every site or type of development.


Good medium-density housing design should cater to the transport, security and mobility requirements of each occupant.


All medium-density housing must meet the requirements of the New Zealand Building Code for structural performance.

Protection from fire

Medium-density housing involves people living in closer proximity, which has several implications for fire safety.


Depending on size, most medium-density housing developments include a wide variety of services.


Good exterior design and using higher-quality construction techniques and materials are important factors.


Effective medium-density housing requires careful design of interior spaces.


When considering the interior layout, designers should pay special attention to acoustic privacy.

Energy management

Consider energy management and sustainability issues such as greenhouse gas emissions at each step of the design process.

Design review

It is increasingly common for medium-density housing development and construction projects to be subjected to a design review process.

Design for maintenance

Larger MDH developments can present significant ongoing maintenance challenges so it is important to include facilities management and future maintenance from the beginning of the design process.

Extensions and alterations

Any alterations and additions to existing medium-density housing must be designed with great care.

Non-structural elements

Non-structural systems include all the elements within a building that are not part of the primary gravity or lateral force-resisting structure, but are still required for the building to function.