Infill Design Guidelines

Infill guidelines & toolkits provide ideas, examples and pattern books to influence quality design for infill projects.

Benefits & Problems Addressed

Facilitate good design: Preferred design guidelines can reduce work for developers & homeowners. Visual guidelines are readily understood by a range of stakeholders. 

Limit impacts on the front end of design: Pre-thinking design elements can limit impacts through site design, materials & architecture.

Incrementally add density with lowered impacts:  Guidelines address competing needs such as (1) lot coverage versus stormwater infiltration; (2) small lots versus parking requirements, (3) parking versus pedestrian-friendly street frontages.

Housing variety & affordability: Adding neighborhood friendly housing types (in addition to single family homes) can help with affordability.

Tips & Techniques

Goals: Work across departments and with neighborhoods on design preferences.  Note local infill development pressures (e.g., parking, stormwater, poor quality).

Choosing preferred design elements: Work with the public to develop design themes with regard to vernacular architecture, sustainability, local materials and/or priorities. Use design contests and invite the public to weigh in on proposals.

Part of overall planning program: Infill guidelines & toolkits are typically not binding; combine with incentives (expedited permitting, financial incentives).,small area plans, parking and transit planning, Align stormwater planning and affordable housing planning. 

How to present guidelines: Present drawings, cross sections and floor plans (which help humanize design for people).  Use augmented reality to envision design prototypes for vacant lots or replacement housing in situ. 

Hot Buttons: Parking, loss of community character with new design, density impacts (height, sound), stormwater runoff.


Infill Design Toolkit: Portland, OR US

Image: Portland OR