As new high rise developments spurt like tall grass over Toronto, we must not forget the the infill boom that is quietly taking over some of Toronto’s trendiest streets.

Matthew Slutsky
July 11, 2010

A growing number of developers are proposing to build infill condominiums to accommodate the growing needs of urbanites who want to live close to work, nightlife and other social hot spots and activities.

What are infill condominiums? Infill projects often rise to 4 to 6 storeys high. However the most distinguishing design feature isn’t the height, but how the building relates to its surrounding environment.

“A successful infill design incorporates design elements so that pedestrians feel comfortable when they walk by the building. ” says Rod Rowbotham, president and principal architect of onespace unlimited, architects and interior design firm, who is working on a number of infill developments in Toronto, including Two Gladstone, 717 Dovercourt, and SYNC Lofts by Streetcar Developments.

“The first 100 ft of the building height typically requires smaller scaled design details created with brick, stone, windows, doorways and balconies.” Rowbotham explains.

So a successful infill is best measured by how it fits in with the location it sits in. Take 9T6, a 17-storey infill condo with 222 units, located at 96 St. Patrick, a quiet side street in a dense urban area of downtown Toronto. Designed by onespace unlimited, 9T6 is pedestrian friendly with vertical rows of balconies and stucco finishes that helps breaks down the mass of the building.

“It is also important for the infill to respond to landscape and architecture surrounding, which can be done using materials with colours and textures that match or contrast the existing context” Rowbotham explains. 9T6 design complements the shady street with large expanses of glass, and the colour scheme of grey-green, silver, and pale green complements its red-brick neighbours.

Besides cool looks, infills are also a more sustainable alternative to expanding urban sprawl for the following reasons:

  • promote local jobs and services and invigorate downtown;
  • help cities to become more transit-oriented, bicycle and pedestrian;
  • reduce pollution caused by commuting; and,
  • improve the safety and sociability of downtown streets.

Rowbotham believes that infill are a growing trend: “While popular in a downtown core, we may begin to see them taking shape in neighbourhoods outside of dense urban centres and in smaller Canadian cities as the demand for intensification and sustainable urban growth increases.”

So if you want to live in the downtown vibe, check out a savvy urban infill as an alternative to high-rise living!

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