Redefining Urban Alleywalls: Urban Design for Active Public Space in Maynard Alley, Chinatown-International District, Seattle
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The network of alley is valuable social resource especially in dense urban area with limited space for public life. Projects are emerging across the world to turn the previous ignored “back of buildings” into safe, clean, and lively public spaces. This thesis typically focuses on the potential of physical improvement in supporting such spaces, with a purpose to understand how the physical form is related to the performance of the alley as a public space such that it encourages daily uses and supports multiple functions at the same time. This thesis tries to answer the question through a combination of research and design. As an output from a series of literature study and case studies, the framework is created with the purpose to guide planners and designers to understand the spatial characteristics of an alley space, and how these relate to the social, cultural, and built context on beyond the site. The framework proposes a typomorphological method to understand how the alley space is formed and how different compositions affect the experience of users in different ways. In the design part, one alley space, Maynard Alley in Chinatown-International District, is selected for a thorough analysis of its characteristics and potential of adapting to future changes. With the guidance of the framework, the site study looks at the social, historic, and built fabric on the site, block, and neighborhood level. This leads to the design manual providing site-specific suggestions on how Maynard Alley can be reactivated as a shared space for everyday uses. It is a pool of design ideas in response to Maynard Alley’s current issues and future opportunities, including the ongoing Maynard Alley Revitalization Project and possible new alleywalls added in future redevelopment project adjacent to the site. This thesis is not proposing an ideal and final design of Maynard Alley, but explores possibilities of future new developments that are supposed to take alley reactivating as part of the design strategy especially when designing the back wall of the building. The site study and design manual for Maynard Alley provide basis to trigger further discussion along the process.
- Urban planning