There has been much talk lately about pursuing greener initiatives, especially as we see and experience the devastating effects of climate change. We are starting to put focus on developing solutions such as driving electric cars or installing solar panels in our homes. However, one solution that perhaps doesn’t get enough attention is the construction of infill homes and buildings in our city.
Infill is the process of developing and building on land that is either underused or vacant. These plots are most often in mature neighbourhoods and are sandwiched between existing structures. So why would choosing to build this way be a greener choice?
As these plots are in older neighbourhoods, there is less need to build new infrastructure, and by using up existing land, we keep our cities more compact, making it more efficient for people to take transit, bike or walk. A more compact site also encourages us to build more efficient buildings.
Building this way also forces us to be more creative on how we use the space, so new and innovative housing types can be developed. New housing types allow the neighbourhood to have a more diverse population by creating more choices – older residents can stay at the same time as a younger generation moves in.
In 2016, AVID Architecture participated in the City of Edmonton Infill Design Competition, and our proposal for the semi-detached housing scheme won an award of merit! Our design is a duplex that can be adapted to three different configurations: 2 separate private dwellings, 2 private dwellings with shared space and 1 large dwelling. These configurations offer flexibility for a wide range of typical and atypical owners: Parents on one side and an adult child with a family on the other, related siblings, friends and other ‘family’ groups that interact on a close knit basis. There is a protected courtyard that creates an outdoor reading space accessible from both homes. With the option of connecting both houses, owners can remain in their own home longer, getting support from friends or family living in the connected home. Alternatively, the courtyard could be filled to provide an additional bedroom for one home.
The building form also offers a contemporary shift in the traditional form of prairie buildings, but maintains the context and massing integral to Edmonton’s mature neighbourhoods. Windows are carefully placed to complement daily activities for both privacy and connectivity while limiting heat loss and solar gain from the North and South sides. Efficient and cost effective construction is achieved through simplicity of form. Straight lines allow regular, predictable structural spans using low cost, commonly available materials. By sharing space, the net building area is reduced, further helping to make this an affordable home.
These are some of our thoughts and ideas on why infill development is so important to our city, and why we are passionate about it. Feel free to connect with us if you want to continue the conversation!