Infill Building in Urban CentersConservation is coming at us from all directions. Love it or hate it, infill building is one of the latest trends that just won't go away. Not everyone wants this kind of building. Still, infill building is becoming increasingly popular in many large urban centres because of the impact of urban sprawl on surrounding countryside. Since most large North American cities are built right in the middle of some of the continent's best crop land, urban sprawl really should be of concern to all of us, and infilling is one approach to manage sprawl.
After all, if the city you live in is importing in food from other areas, what if they are building on all their best farmland too?
In fact, in some big cities, the trendiest neighbourhoods are those that used to be small, low-end homes. Often these neighbourhoods are in good proximity to the city. In increasing numbers, people are buying these properties and tearing down or completely making over the homes. Small homes become large homes with big additions or new second storeys. Old homes are torn down and new, upscale homes take their place. Vacant or abandoned industrial space becomes trendy new condos with high ceilings.
Frankly, the cost of the suburban commute is going up as well. Cars are expensive. Gas, while cheaper than it's been, is also expensive. For the cost of that commute, many are finding that they can afford to buy urban. After all, who finds a 2 hour commute to be "quality time"?
It does take some creativity to make infill building that fits the character of the location. I don't know about you but I've driven through some of these areas where infill building is rampant, and I've come away unimpressed. Nothing looks more ridiculous than a house that fills its lot from corner to corner, in a modest community of 1 1/2 storey homes. While we want to have more housing that uses existing land, we also have to keep in mind that the biggest concern on the minds of many is conservation of our environment. I think we can expect that the cost of our utilities are going to increase, and substantially, in the next 10 years. If we aren't building to conserve, we will definitely pay for it later.
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