I was fortunate enough to spend my December break in Australia. While I was there, I spent a couple of days at a hotel in Sydney which included access into the most incredible breakfast buffet. I’m a big fan of buffets for a lot of reasons: you can take what you like and leave what you don’t; you can go back for more; and most importantly, there is choice.
While working my way through the mound of watermelon and chocolate cake on my plate, I came to the realization that types of residential infill are a bit like the buffet I was encountering. Like the breakfast buffet, infill offers standard options like single-detached houses (bacon?) and duplexes (eggs?). But my buffet included all sorts of breakfast options I had never even seen before (take ‘pancake breakfast sushi’ as an example).
When we think of residential infill, we often think of the standard offerings because this is what we see most. There are other types of infill which we don’t see, or which have only recently started to appear in Edmonton. Fueled by watermelon and chocolate cake, I’ve given some thought to some infill choices that we might contemplate in Edmonton’s ‘Infill Buffet’.
Cottage clusters are small groups of homes arranged around a common green space. These homes can be attached or detached from one another. They can also be designed to reflect or complement the architectural patterns already found in the neighbourhood, such as massing, colours, roof pitches, or style of windows. Calgary’s Land Use Bylaw has recently included Cottage Clusters as a land use zone.
Attached housing arranged around central courtyards accessible from the street are called courtyard townhouses or shared court housing. The courtyards are open space and can double as laneways for vehicle access. These courtyards provide multi-use spaces and can limit the amount of on-street parking required.
Laneway housing (also known as garage/garden suites) refers to smaller secondary houses built at the back of a single family lot. While Edmonton has recently seen a number of new laneway houses, there is the potential for more of this type of infill in the city’s established neighbourhoods.
Cottage clusters, laneway housing and courtyard housing are just three types of different residential infill choices that we don’t see a lot of today but which may help to provide more housing options in Edmonton. Neighbourhoods have different characteristics, different built forms, different street grids, and different sizes of lots. People have different perspectives, needs, and ideas. These characteristics and perspectives can provide opportunities for creative, appropriate and innovative forms of infill that meet the needs of existing and future residents while adding to the choices in Edmonton’s Infill Buffet.
Evolving Infill is one of the City’s newest projects. Inspired by your stories, perspectives and ideas for advancing residential infill, we’re working to build a shared story for infill in Edmonton. Take part in the conversation. Visit www.edmonton.ca/evolvinginfill to find out how!