What is "Good" Infill?
Establishing a Consistent Criteria for Quality Infill
While some would contend that no infill is good infill, we must be realistic and recognize that no city is perfect and no neighbourhood is perfect. Infill is an opportunity for improvement.
Here are some criteria that IDEA believes will enable an infill project to improve a neighbourhood:
Densification is the process of adding more units to a property. This can mean housing units, and commercial and retail spaces. Replacing an existing older home with one new home is not densification.
The project allows people to live in the neighbourhood who previously couldn’t, and for people to stay in their neighbourhood as their housing needs change. For example:
- Homes that are affordable for young families and new immigrants
- Secondary suites and other rental units
- Seniors housing that allows people to stay close to their friends and neighbours and everything they have become familiar with
- Barrier-free housing that welcomes people with diverse mobility needs
Our neighbourhoods should reflect the rich diversity of our city.
The project is constructed of high quality, long lasting materials, inside and out.
As a result of advances in building science, improved quality of construction materials, and stricter building code requirements, new houses are more energy efficient than most of the original housing stock in mature neighbourhoods. Net Zero Energy, PassivHaus, and other highly energy efficient projects should be encouraged.
Many of Edmonton’s mid-century neighbourhoods were designed to be car-centric. There was little consideration for the impact of urban design on our health, our energy use, and our relationships with our neighbours. In the intervening years we have learned that moving our houses closer to the street creates opportunities for neighbours to get to know each other and to watch out for each other. It makes our neighbourhoods more vibrant and interesting and encourages people to walk through them.
Mature trees add significant value to our mature areas, and should be preserved where possible and replaced by new trees when not. Care should be taken to ensure that the front yard and front façade of the house improve the quality of the public space it faces. For healthy neighbourhoods, public streetscapes must be attractive to pedestrians and enhance neighbourly relationships.
According to Vitruvius, an architect of the first century BC, a building must exhibit the three qualities of solidity, usefulness and beauty. If our infill projects can follow these principles our mature neighbourhoods will necessarily be improved.