Gentle Density seeks to develop the middle ground

A new approach to higher density promises less disruption.

Building bigger buildings to accommodate smaller homes sounds like an oxymoron, but it is actually a viable means of increasing density while minimizing disruption to established communities.

The result is what's known as Gentle Density, which defines the sweet spot between low- and high-density development.  

An article in Next City reported, the concept is catching on in cities like Portland, Toronto, Minneapolis and Calgary but it can take a variety of forms. 

Some cities are considering allowing three or four homes to be built on existing lots, while other places are focused on laneway housing or encouraging more multi-unit development. But regardless of its exact form, Gentle Density is designed to bring the benefits of smarter growth, including easy access to amenities, safer streets and a variety of housing types, to established communities. 

But while a variety of housing types is desirable for urban planners, the majority of Canadian home buyers want single-family detached homes. It's a preference that presents a challenge for advocates of Gentle Density. The Canadian climate might give them a means of winning converts. As Next City reported, heating and cooling a house accounts for 70% to 80% of its carbon impact. Attached housing with its fewer exposed walls, cuts down on heating and cooling costs.  

That fact combined with the importance of energy efficiency to home buyers means that, when it comes to Gentle Density, gentle persuasion—and the occasional whopping heating bill—might prove most effective.

September 21st, 2018
Updated: September 24th, 2018

The sweet spot between high- and low-density housing might just save you money.