To continue the alley library, the only contemporary book I’ve come across is a small booklet called Site Unseen: Toronto Laneway Architecture and Urbanism, by the University of Toronto Press. This book highlights a survey of housing neighborhoods with alleys running between lots. It is the result of a studio course taught by Brigitte Shim and Donald Chong at the University of Toronto in 1995. It has a great set of diagrams showing the growth and evolution of the alleys within the selected neighborhoods of Toronto. Apparently laneway housing is an option and the last section of the book presents a dozen student projects depicting uses from community centers and houses to laundromats that hang-dry on the alley.
The notion of alley housing is very interesting as the space available is quite valuable. As far as obstructing right of ways go here in Seattle, there doesn’t seem to be much hope for this at the moment. However, what if housing was to parasitically attach into existing infrastructure above the going-ons below? What if egress stairs both external and internal were braided into a new network of structures? Below a scheme depicts a variety of uses including commercial, park, and residential. This is a series of fire escape follies. These structures could project minimally from 6′-8′ without breaking to many laws as long as they were above 25′ in the air. Imagine seeing pedestrian activity turn into an alley and up the wall to create a linked vertical and horizontal network.
In an amazing feat of temporary permitting, culture, and a big screen, Alley World Cup game 1 brought nearly 130 people into Nord Alley late this morning. This is the most people I’ve ever seen in an alley in Seattle at one time. Chairs were out, food was brought in from local vendors and restaurants and an apparently solid moment of civic space took place. These games will be played all week at 11:30, come check it out. This is Seattle alley urbanism at its best. I heard some great quips as the game ended specifically one gentleman saying, “this was awesome, and I didn’t even get murdered in the alley!’. This is a fantastic step towards changing the collective perception of the potential of these spaces.
Make sure to come down to the Nord Alley in Pioneer Square this weekend to kick off the World Cup with the UK vs. USA at 11:30. A group of organizations spearheaded by Todd Vogel and the International Sustainability Institute have come together to create another fantastic event to catalyze use of the alley and Pioneer Square in general. They have worked together with various cultural organizations representing the various countries playing in the cup to have food vending areas during the games. This event is free and it looks like the weather will be perfect this weekend. For a schedule of all the games and more information please visit http://alleyart.org/Alley_Art_Events.html