Reclaiming the Right of Way: A New Infill Model for the Urban US A Seattle Case Study
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Like many US cities, Seattle is facing a housing affordability crisis. Could its streets serve as an unrecognized publicly-controlled asset to combat this crisis while also disincentivizing private vehicles? Expanding on recent trends towards pedestrianization and greenways, this study explores building low-rise infill housing in the right of way as an alternative density strategy to high-rise construction. Achieved by layering “medieval” fabric over three urban village sites near transit hubs, the proposed interventions tap human-scale, incrementalist design to see formal housing where none presently exists. The culmination: a proposal for a novel street type for Seattle, pedestrian place. As envisioned here, the insertion of housing into shared streets boosts the equity and public space gains of concepts like Barcelona’s superblocks. Primarily a conceptual rationale, this design proposal does not delve into legal or policy hurdles, instead tapping dense urban fabrics of the past to re-imagine a future for US cities.
- Urban planning