I am excited to be heading to San Francisco during the middle of my second to last semester at Harvard’s GSD to attend the Urban Land Institute’s Fall 2015 Conference. I am still readjusting to life back in the United States after an incredible year based in Berlin exploring cities such as Hamburg, Stuttgart, Paris, Prague, Vienna, Brussels, Istanbul, Budapest, and Lyon. Stay tuned for reports from San Francisco as well as some long overdue photos of alleys in the afore-mentioned cities.
I have re-branded the blog to be an extension of my practice’s site, freshly launched at danieltoole.com – take a look at some of the new work happening, particularly the first official alley design project coming in Miami Florida’s Design District – more updates on this soon.
After being in Berlin for almost half a year now, I had been missing alleys. Berlin’s massive blocks with deep interior plots and parcels do not seem to, along with the population density, warrant the use of lanes or alleys. Instead courtyards are more common called “Hofs” or “Hoefer” – stay tuned for some documentation of these.
Over the winter break, I traveled with two good friends (Hayrettin and Hamed) through Istanbul, a vast city of 14 million – meaning nearly ten times the population of Manhattan in one city. This city’s multiple developments spanning over seven large hills or mountains has a collection of fabrics at a scale and variety I have only experienced perhaps similarly in Tokyo. The crossing of the Bosphorus on a daily basis is a ritual for many of the city’s inhabitants moving from their neighborhood to their work on the other side as my friend does. This breath of fresh sea air accompanied with many birds and a hot tea provides a vantage point that so struck Le Corbusier on his trip here as a young man in his journey to the east of 1911.
The myriad neighborhoods and their individual topography produce many different kinds of small streets, alleys, and terraced alleys running down the steeper inclines. All forms of program can be found including markets, stores, galleries, craftsman shops, vendors, and restaurants. These can be found at street level and more commonly a level above and below. Interesting unique aspects include tiny sidewalks if at all and the combination of foot and vehicular traffic through these tight spaces and a number of intimate alleys overgrown with grape vines overhead. A nice detail is the multiplicity of stray dogs and cats roaming these small streets, but they are not mangy, they are more treated as communal pets and give a nice warm layer of life to the city.
Please keep your calendars marked for my exhibit on my travels.
The exhibit, “Tight Urbanism”, scheduled for its’ opening reception May 11, 2011 will showcase the findings of the AIA Seattle Emerging Professionals Travel Fellowship travel through several mediums including photographs, sketches, video, and physical models. The exhibit is slated to run from May11 to July 1st, with a potential move to the International District in July.
I will be at the Nord Alley to hand out invites to the exhibit on Thursday, May 5 at their alley party. I highly recommend everyone to come to this for the debut of their permanent art installation in the alley, food, music, and more. Please stay tuned.
Let me know if you have any questions, or if you’d like to schedule a private tour of the exhibit, I am happy to take groups, individuals, and organizations throughout May and June.
– Daniel Toole
From the graffiti-lined AC/DC Lane, to the retaraunts of China Town, and the shopping streets of Degraves Lane, to the hangout of Centre Place, Melbourne was an incredible city of alleys and public space in general. This type of urbanism is not attainable without prolific planning, policy, and organic development. This network of alleys is a model city for any flatiron grid city seeking to re-invigorate their back-alleys and side streets.