Urban Infills: Modern Architecture, Flexible Living

Posted on
November 8, 2018

Urban infill, also known as redevelopment or land recycling, is when new construction takes place to refresh or repurpose underused sites. But infill projects can be controversial if they aren’t a good fit in the neighborhood. How can architects balance their design aesthetic in the context of the surrounding environment? This article describes some factors to consider.

Public vs Private

The perfect infill project must be seen by stakeholders as a positive development for the area. If you have a specific area in mind for your dream infill home, you should ensure that your new home will help to define the quality of public life and will be safe and accessible, while ensuring that new development respects the character of the existing surrounding, yet retains its own distinct identity.

An urban infill home should support proper public streetscapes and landscape, well thought-out and appropriate building design, well-designed and functioning parking, and properly sized and connected servicing, while still delivering all the design requirements set up by the project developer.

Secondary suites

In addition to R-2zoned lots, currently, the City of Calgary Council allows for a variety of secondary suites to be proposed for review on lots designated R-1, R-C1 andR-C1L (March 12, 2018). Applicants can now apply for a development permit int hese land districts. This makes the potential addition and provision of a secondary dwelling unit in the established areas more available to unit owners.

Secondary suites vary from basement suites to garden to garage suites. An up-front design decision may allow you to either have the work already done while considering the new housing option, or prepare for this occurrence in the future. For example, you may decide to design your basement with an independent entryway, or you might plan a garage structure such that a secondary suite could be built on top of it later on.

Benefits of Infill Living

An urban infill house can allow you to live close to services and entertainment in the center of the city, as well as reducing commute time and cost of living. Infills are becoming widely popular among proponents of walkable neighborhoods, as infill homes provide homeowners with access to established neighborhoods with a good network of roads that are also well-serviced through public transit. Sustainability advocates also tend to support urban infill, as these homes generally offer a tighter, more vertical living style (i.e. “skinny house”), a smaller but more intimate backyard, and a more compacted and better utilized building footprint.

Another important factor to consider will be the secondary income your secondary home may be able to supply. This can help to offset the cost of your mortgage or in the future allow you to increase or decrease the house stock available to you and your family.

If you’d like to know more about the potential of an infill property, or if you’re intrigued by any of the above, please reach out for more information.

Photo credit: Magdalena Kurylowicz

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