A Study Of Infill Morphology: Part One

January 4, 2022
This is the first part of a four part series focusing on small-scale residential infill design in general, and infill development in Edmonton’s Mature Neighborhoods in particular.

First of all, let’s establish what small-scale Residential Infill is, and what purpose it serves:

According the City of Edmonton[1] website, “residential infill is the development of new housing in established neighbourhoods. This new housing may include secondary suites, garden suites, duplexes, semi-detached and detached houses, row houses, apartments, and other residential and mixed-use buildings.”

In practice, among other benefits, it is a way of evolving mature and established communities into neighborhoods which are more suitable for the current generation of working professionals, while at the same time increasing the population density of conveniently located central communities.

Types of small-scale Residential Infill projects:

Residential infill comes in many shapes and sizes. Through the course of this series, we will examine the most common design morphologies set along an imaginary city block, in some detail, starting with the ever-popular detached single-family development called a “skinny” house, continuing with two different morphologies of semi-detached “duplex” houses, and finishing off with fourplexes and row houses. In the final part of the series, all of these infill types will come together to form an imaginary city block of the future, which will revitalize the neighbourhood socially and physically, provide more housing options at increased affordability, and most importantly improve the environmental sustainability of contemporary cities through a concept known as Compact City.[2]

Skinny Houses:

A “skinny house” is a single family home, constructed on one half of a subdivided standard 50’-wide lot. It is a desirable alternative both for real-estate investors and developers, as well as for owners of older homes in need of extensive renovations – they are able to access a portion of the land value by selling half of their lot and using the proceeds to fund a portion of their build.

Despite their narrow aspect, these types of homes are perfect for couples, families, and even empty-nesters, and they tend to be quite spacious. Most have excellent flow with an open-concept first floor including a living area, dining area, and kitchen, making it perfect for entertaining.

A 2-piece bath is also featured on the main floor, and access to the yard (with patio potential), and detached garage is provided through a rear entrance.

The second floor usually features a master bedroom with en-suite and walk-in closet, two additional bedrooms which share a main bath, and a dedicated laundry room.

Coming next week in part two: the most popular semi-detached duplex development

[1] https://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/urban_planning_and_design/residential-infill-guidelines.aspx

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compact_city