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.
The Seattle Design Festival was an honor to take part in. It was fantastic to see all the different design community members gathered in one place in the city, activating it, and attracting so much interest. This type of pop-up urbanism is what this city, and many others need. An event, while requiring planning, does not need the capital, bureaucratic process, and vision that a building needs and thus creates a unique type of community and urbanity that can build momentum for a neighborhood, block, or alley.
The pallet displays lived their life and served their purpose and were recycled after this exhibit, it’s fourth in the city after Belltown, Pioneer Square, and the International Distrixt. The boards are still available and in fine condition if you have an alley party or community meeting you wish to use them at, please let me know. Thank you to all who showed up at the Design Festival, and the friends who helped me put this all together.
Also, if you didnt’ catch the interview earlier this year, The Atlantic Cities blog featured a brief article on my work and views on alleys, check it out here.
Finally after a first round of edits, the book chronicling my travels, adventures, sketches, and photos from this year-long foray into alleyways is available at blurb.com. Please email me if you have any questions. You can purchase it from the link above!
Thank you for supporting my work.
– Daniel Toole
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