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Edmonton has earned a prestigious planning award for an innovative housing design competition spearheaded to stir up conversation and awareness around middle density housing. The Canadian Institute of Planners honoured the City with an award of merit in the category of new and emerging planning initiatives for its Missing Middle Design Competition at its 2020 Awards for Planning Excellence, which took place virtually on July 8.

“The initiative is an excellent example of how good planning can bring neighbours together and inspire builders and architects to create out-of-the-box designs that enrich our cities and neighbourhoods,” the CIP Awards for Planning Excellence jury said in a statement.

The jury was impressed with how the Missing Middle Design Competition encouraged productive conversations about infill development and helped the public and development community envision what is possible for infill design.

Jason Syvixay, project manager for the competition at the City of Edmonton, notes that the Missing Middle Infill Design Competition was conceptualized as a response to Edmonton’s Strategic Plan — Connect Edmonton — and to its City Plan, which together set the direction and vision for Edmonton’s future.
“Our goal is to create urban places where Edmonton neighbourhoods are more vibrant as density increases; where people and businesses thrive; and where housing and mobility options are plentiful. The Missing Infill Design Competition was an opportunity to test innovative new housing forms integral to the future of Edmonton,” says Syvixay.

The City put out a call for submissions from design teams across the globe. The task was to design a missing middle density housing plan for five city-owned parcels of land just north of the downtown core in the City’s Spruce Avenue community. But the City wasn’t looking for just any design. It wanted one that incorporated sound planning principles for sustainable development including architectural quality, relationship to context, affordability, accessibility, inter-generational housing, amenities and winter design.

The competition took it a step further in that there was an end goal — a finished product.

The missing middle refers to multi-unit housing that falls between single-detached homes and tall apartment buildings. It includes row housing, courtyard housing, tiny home communities, low and mid rise apartments and tri- and fourplexes.

More than 30 entries were received. Chosen by a national jury of architects, planners and architectural critics, the winning project, the Goodweather, designed by architectural and builder team comprised of Part and Parcel, Studio North and Gravity Architecture, is a contextually responsive design that integrates community and promotes inter-generational living.

When built (the winning team can purchase the land and begin the build process once rezoning has been approved), the development will be comprised of 56 homes: 14 townhomes designed for young families, 21 single bedroom loft dwellings for students and young professionals and 21 ground-level dwellings for seniors.

“Once constructed, the prototype will be used to inspire missing middle infill development in other parts of the city,” says Syvixay.

The Canadian Institute of Planners’ Awards of Excellence is an annual competition that recognizes innovation, excellence in planning, contribution and impact on the planning profession, and strength in category.

This year 13 award recipients were chosen from 52 national and international submissions.


Story by: Edmonton Journal