Urban Infills: General Benefits of Urban Densification

Posted on
October 10, 2018
What’s an infill?

By now, if you’re looking for a new home, you’ve probably heard the word “infill” a few times. Infill generally refers to redevelopment in form of multi-family, semi-detached or single-family dwellings being built on vacant or underdeveloped parcels within previously built, serviced (i.e. schools, transit lines, emergency services, etc.) and established areas.

Infill redevelopments are designed to optimize land use while providing higher density, vitality and economic return to the community and owners alike.

Why choose to live in an infill development?

Infills are becoming widely popular among house hunters. They offer the comfort and convenience of a mature neighborhood – parks, mature trees, nearby grocery stores, shopping and schools, with the added benefits of a new, modern home. Often, established areas may have older styles of home construction (imagine a post-war home or1950s-era bungalow) that do not offer the same comforts and design features that we expect today. This type of development offers the best of both worlds:customized modern comfort, in an established area.

Where infills are built?

Look for infills in well-established neighborhoods with their own unique sense of place – this maybe the very thing that attracts you to the area. A good infill should not detract from the established surroundings, so it takes a good architect and an eye for design to ensure the new space blends in with the old.

Are there any benefits to an infill project?

Several! One of the foremost is making the most efficient use of space. Calgary is a unique city, due to its extremely low population density. According to a recent study, for a land area of 586 km2, almost the size of Chicago and not far behindTokyo, Calgary’s urban population is just 1.2 million, compared to Chicago at2.7 million and Tokyo at 9.7 million[1]. As its sparse population continues to grow, Calgary continues to expand.

Infills are a sustainable solution to this issue, also known as “urban sprawl”. They make use of underdeveloped spaces, creating housing for more people on smaller lots –not to mention they reuse the existing serviced space. Talk about environmentally conscious!

 Ideally, as in fill development becomes more common, it will result in better utilization of land resources, more compact patterns of land use, and reinvestment in areas whichhave been already serviced and have existing infrastructure.

 Densification is also a healthy way to:

  • manage a city’s growth by making the most of its infrastructure, and
  • support a wider range of housing choices on a more compact and efficient footprint, within proximity to existing services.
In summary…

Infill development influences and revitalizes aging neighborhoods by transforming the urban built form to amore sustainable one that offers variety in the housing stock. Infill development is also a powerful tool for accommodating growth by adding density without spending public money on installing new infrastructure and services on undeveloped land.

If you’d like to know more about the potential of an infill property, please reach out for more information.

Photo credit: Magdalena Kurylowicz

[1] Josef Filipowicz, “Room to Grow: Comparing Urban Density in Canada and Abroad.” Fraser Research Bulletin January 2018.

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