In our RS zones the main house, basement suite and lane house all have to share the rear yard, while the front yard remains largely formal. The zoning rules don't allow a second door facing the street because that might make the house look like a duplex. We can change this. By allowing basement suites, or even the main dwelling to have additional doors facing the street we can start to use the front yard as a functional space.
Urban Passive House
Passive House (Passivhaus) is one of the world's leading green building standards that is aimed at creating comfortable, healthy, ultra-low-energy buildings. Many of the early examples of passive house projects were, in fact, houses (and rural ones, at that). In recent years the standard has been used to create an amazing range of super efficient buildings of all types including towers, schools, condo mid rise, and urban infill.
Single Lot Density
Our approach toward multi-family housing almost always requires 'lot consolidation' - where single lots are purchased by a developer and consolidated into a larger development. This strategy can facilitate amenities like underground parking, but it also means that existing residents have to sell and move. By contrast, if we could develop single lots to townhouse and apartment levels of density, then existing residents could 'densify in place'.
As designers we want to save high quality trees and we can make a tree a real centrepiece of a home's design, we just need the flexibility to shift the building around on the site.
Carve it up
We can subdivide larger lots into smaller ones, and existing homes into multiple units.
Our 'single family' lots in Vancouver allow 3 dwellings, but the appearance is required to reinforce the idea of 'single family character'. Why is it a priority to keep up appearances? Can we allow duplexes in all of our single family zones?
Vancouver 'Extra' Special
The 20,000+ Vancouver Specials in the city are typically built to a max density of 0.6FSR, but don't usually leave enough space for a lane house to be built at the rear. Because of this, these lots only have 2 units (instead of the 3 allowed on most RS properties). The specials are also under-built by 1000+ sf relative to their lane-house-ready counterparts. If we could add the lane house density to the top of a special, we could create thousands of low cost triplexes and rehab this much-maligned building type.
Infill for all RT Lots
In Vancouver the lots that allow duplexes are zoned "RT".
Back in the 90s the city of Vancouver came up with the innovative idea of preserving existing character homes in the RT zones by allowing a smaller infill home to be built at the rear of the lot so that owners could add density without tearing down the old home.
In the ensuing years after the infill policy was first adopted the city has allowed 'laneway houses' to be built on all RS zoned lots. Now that owners of RS properties have leapfrogged ahead of what's allowed for RT owners, perhaps its