In Appreciation of Gentle Density

How does one talk about density without frightening people? One term that's floating around is "gentle density," referring to the missing middle between mid-rise and detached homes.

Read Time: 1 minute

March 12, 2017, 9:00 AM PDT

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc


Homes

Jeramey Lende / Shutterstock

Navigating the density debate might be easier if more cities embraced "gentle density," which Brent Toderian defines as "attached, ground-oriented housing that's more dense than a detached house, but with a similar scale and character. Think duplexes, semi-detached homes, rowhouses, or even stacked townhouses."

While even this mild form of densification draws opposition, it's less drastic than big blocky mid-rises. "Many people don't mind sharing a common wall and are eager to cut their costs and carbon footprint, but still appreciate a direct relationship with the ground. That's why fellow urbanist Daniel Parolek in San Francisco calls this kind of density the 'missing middle.'"

Rowhouses, townhouses and the like used to be an urban staple. But now, planners in many cities will have to relearn them. "In most cities though, deliberate zoning decisions have made this kind of housing illegal."

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 in Metro Toronto

Congestion

Redesigning Streets for Livability: A Global View

An excerpt from the introduction of the recent book, “Streets For All: 50 Strategies for Shaping Resilient Cities,” edited by Vinayak Bharne and Shyam Khandekar.

January 18, 2023 - Vinayak Bharne

Aerial view of Bend, Oregon with river and old mill district

Bend Eliminates Parking Minimums

The city is complying with an Oregon state mandate that some cities have challenged in court.

January 20, 2023 - KTVZ

Sunset view over canal and downtown Scottsdale, Arizona

Scottsdale Cuts Water Supply to Nearby Suburb

The city claims it has no responsibility to provide water to the unincorporated Maricopa County community.

January 18, 2023 - The Washington Post

Pedestrians and people on bikes on Atlanta BeltLine multiuse trail

How To Prevent ‘Green Gentrification:’ Lessons from the BeltLine

For one author, the key is focusing on affordable housing from the start.

January 27 - The Conversation

View of stone-paved street with pedestrians and "Farmers Market" neon sign on left and old buildings on right in Seattle, Washington

Push and Pull: The Link Between Walkability and Affordability

The increased demand for walkable urban spaces could make them more and more exclusionary if cities don’t pursue policies to limit displacement and boost affordability.

January 27 - Smart Cities Dive

Rendering of freeway deck over Interstate 10 in El Paso

El Paso Freeway Cap Linked to Road Expansion

A deck reconnecting neighborhoods divided by the interstate is part of a controversial freeway expansion proposal.

January 27 - Smart Cities Dive