Recently on the twitters, there have been some interesting discussion on new models for small-scale infill development. I am always super interested in this topic as I believe there is both a need and demand for new residential types that fit the evolution happening in our city’s neighbourhoods (for example, I very much appreciated and support Michael Mortensen’s discussion of a ‘New Vancouver Special‘ – right here on Price Tags!). Myself, I have long been an advocate for the triplex and its something we championed in the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre plan (we called them ‘stacked flats’) as the triplex is a very flexible housing type (and one that doesn’t require significant land assemblies). So naturally, I was very interested in a proposal by Bryn Davidson of Lanefab (one of our city’s exemplary design/build firms and the designer of some of Vancouver’s most innovative laneway houses).

Basically, Bryn’s proposal (being worked out incrementally through discussion and testing – so its not fully formed yet) is to subdivide existing lots (seems to work best on 50 foot frontages), relax some setbacks, and allow for triplex + laneway houses to provide real housing options that fit the DNA of Vancouver’s neighbourhoods. Some examples:

50' subdiv - rowhouse 25x122

50' subdiv - rowhouse 25x122 - PLAN50' subdiv - rowhouse 25x122 - SECTION

for 33 foot lots:

33x122 rowhouse 4 plex

33x122 rowhouse 4 plex - plan

33x122 rowhouse 4 plex - single lot


What I appreciate about this scale of development, and really any approach that doesn’t require assembly or lot consolidation, is that its a scale that doesn’t require a deep-pocketed developer and can work with many different development and ownership models. And I believe that Bryn thinks it can be done to Passivhaus standards for hard costs of approximately $250 per sq. ft.

To help make this happen, the City should be proactive and help innovative solutions like this navigate the rezoning and development approval process (and even initiate rezonings itself), as well as help with public engagement and consultation (critical to refining any proposal to fit the neighbourhood). This is what the City does best, so it doesn’t require heavy lifting or investment.

For more detail, check Lanefab’s twitter feed.