INFILL / INFRONT

Metropolis Next Generation Design Competition, 2010

Drew Adams

Infill / Infront is a proposal aiming not to author a specific project but to author a process of transformation to our suburban fabric. Moreover it articulates a poignant vision of a future for these sprawling areas of the city which far too often are cast aside as excessively difficult to change but whose reform is crucial to achieving our collective goals of socially, economically and ecologically sustaining communities.

Speculating on a site in suburban Greater Toronto, specifically in Richmond Hill, the proposal engages directly with the ‘DNA’ of the urban fabric– the zoning code. It details the resulting possibilities from a modest policy change to front setback allowances on identified ‘through-streets’ – those which connect residential subdivisions to the regional road network, often coincide with local bus routes and are within walking distance of neighborhood side streets.

Such setback modifications on these streets would enable an incremental and self-selecting process of neighborhood-scale infill to occur. Fitting into existing front-yards, high-performance, prefabricated infill units would create shared courtyard spaces while preserving the privacy of the rear-yard for the original homeowners. Proposed units would also be ideally suited for many demographics underserved by prevailing house forms while potential also exists for a variety of mixed-use scenarios to occur. Such changes would be supported by on-street parking and bike lane provision within the existing right-of-way.

Ultimately, Infill / Infront demonstrates how a simple bureaucratic change could usher in both increased density and diversity and significant transformation of the streetscape and community fabric.