Collective Mischief, Urban Layering

by Caroline Barmes

Location: Post Alley at Pike Place; Gum wall @1428 Post Alley

The site I’m looking at is a stretch of Post Alley starting 30 feet south of Pike’s Place and extending for the next 1/2 block. It is quite a slim passageway, at points as narrow as 15’. It is a one way, cobblestone street accommodating single cars, but each time I’ve visited there has been only pedestrian movement. The portion of the block closest to Pike’s Place actually passes through the side of a building, creating a dim, sheltered tunnel. The site is interesting due to two distinct features: a mural of gum on the east side of the street by the Market Theater; and on the west side, underneath and emerging from the protected tunnel, is a long wall covered in years of accumulated posters and paste-ups.

Both of these features are interesting because they represent the self expression of multiple authors; a group process creating textured and varied landscapes. The walls are a layered record of the site’s history, as passersby and local artists alike contribute spontaneously stuck gum wads or carefully drafted paste-ups. The combinations and juxtapositions created with the paste-ups and the spectacle of the long gum mural contribute to the neighborhood’s eclectic character, inspire wonder and delight, and add to the street theater of human interaction.

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Micro Urbanism

The term “micro-urbanism” describes small-scale urban spaces and design interventions that enable a wide variety of activities, events, processes and functions to take place. It also involves ways to reinterpret the urban landscape. As a class project, the purpose for creating this Guide is to bring attention to aspects of our everyday environment that are important but often neglected parts of the urban experiences.

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