Research in the News

Sustainable Development Research

Second Dwelling Units Can Add Density

IURD Associate Director Karen Chapple unveils a scalable path toward "invisible" density—in her own backyard.

chapple cottage opne houseThe backyard cottage at IURD Associate Director Karen Chapple's home in the Berkeley flats is a real-life contemporary demonstration of a historic approach to increasing residential density without significantly altering a neighborhood's character.

It was officially unveiled at an open house on January 8, 2011 with a ribbon-cutting by local officials and project participants.

The concept grew out of a meeting between Chapple and a team of students from Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Ashok Gadgil's Design for Sustainable Communities course, who were researching how small homes could be used to supply housing that was more affordable and used fewer resources. The final team for Chapple's house included students from City and Regional Planning, Civil Engineering and the Haas School of Business who researched the design, energy efficiency standards, and permitting process.

The cottage has won an Eco Award from Diablo Magazine for demonstrating the city of the future, and has also inspired press coverage from the San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, and, among other venues.

Chapple is conducting a study funded by the University of California Transportation Center that examines the feasibility of scaling up the secondary dwelling unit approach in the East Bay, including an examination of how innovative transportation such as car sharing could contribute to its success. Read the abstract of Chapple's UCTC faculty research grant: TOD, infill housing, and carshare: a feasibility study. Results will be posted in Fall 2011.


framework cover spring 2011 frameworks page for adu story

IURD Featured in College of Environmental Design's Frameworks Spring 2011 Issue

Students and faculty at the College of Environmental Design have long designed creative approaches to increasing density in residential neighborhoods. But California's implementation of SB 375, the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008, is putting new pressure on communities to support infill development. So the timing could not be more perfect for the Institute of Urban and Regional Development's Center for Community Innovation to study small-scale infill, specifically, the potential impact of an accessory dwelling unit strategy in the East Bay. Read entire story, Studying the Benefits of Accessory Dwelling Units, in CED's Spring 2011 Frameworks.



Related News Stories

IURD Associate Director Karen Chapple Winner of One of the 2011 Eco Awards "The Delaware House Wins for: Providing eco-chic housing, without building up or sprawling out." (Diablo Magazine)

Backyard Cottages Sprout Like Mushrooms...Karen Chapple, a city planning professor at the University of California, Berkeley, says she was intrigued by the burgeoning trend and built her own backyard cottage this year — as a class project, no less — to see the feasibility of backyard cottages as affordable housing options in the Bay Area.

Local Cottage Stands for Affordability and Energy Efficiency Eighteen blocks west of UC Berkeley, a cottage standing in a professor's backyard exemplifies a new option for Bay Area affordable housing, consisting of a low-cost, energy-efficient dwelling strategically placed near a major transit corridor.

Berkeley tests concept of backyard cottage...Karen Chapple, director of the Center for Community Innovation, leads a study funded by the University of California Transportation Center "to determine how many accessory homes could be built around five Bay Area Rapid Transit stations, and how they might affect the local economy." Berkeley has as many as 4,000 backyard cottage infill sites, according to the study's preliminary findings. A metropolitan area could have hundreds of thousands of such sites...(Roger K. Lewis, "Shaping the City" column, Washington Post)

Berkeley zero net energy cottage deserves study Karen Chapple's just-built second home looks exactly like what it is: a cottage that packs 450 square feet of living space into a traditional shell with a pitched roof, warm wooden walls and a shaded front porch. Old news - except that it sits tucked behind a century-old bungalow on a quiet Berkeley block with neighbors close on either side, stealth infill that in its own discreet way deserves study by every city where the need for housing outstrips the supply of obvious land. (John King, SF Chronicle)

Small, cozy cottage may start new trend Berkeley is hoping small houses will make a big difference in the city's effort to accommodate its growing population. ... It's a backyard cottage, also known as an in-law unit. "People walk in and say this has such a sense of place," says Karen Chapple. ... She's a city planning professor at UC Berkeley and this was her way to not only add value to her property, but to help accommodate a growing population and curb suburban sprawl. "We need to lower our energy costs as a society. We need to be more sustainable. So how are we going to get there? Well this is one strategy that is not obtrusive, we call it hidden density or invisible density," says Chapple. (ABC7 News)

Little House Could Mean Big Environmental and Housing Gains Backers of green friendly second unit in Berkeley see potential in BART station neighborhoods. (El Cerrito Patch)

A city looks for big solutions in little – very little – houses (Berkeleyside)