Archive for the 'hidden' Category

A Secluded Plaza: Blanchard Brick

by Aaron Luoma

Location: Blanchard Ave. between 5th & 6th Downtown Seattle, WA

This plaza is located along Blanchard Ave. between 5th and 6th in downtown Seattle. The entirely brick plaza is flanked by two large office towers. The small space faces south, but receives relatively little sun light because of the buildings and larger trees planted in some small beds. The space has several levels with stairs. A large partially disguised ventilation shaft for the underground parking below the building, dominates the front entrance into the small plaza. The two paths that lead into the space, first take one into a side entrance to the adjacent office building. To the side are some stairs that leads to a smaller, more intimate space with benches, trashcan, and ashtray. Large, over-sized floodlights turn on during the night, discouraging vagrant populations from using the space. Signs are posted disallowing certain activities, such as skateboarding. The plantings include mostly native plants, with several evergreens. Terracotta pots with plants are placed along side the building for decorative elements. Stainless steel handrails stand in contrast to the brick material used throughout the site. The obscurity of materials and isolated nature of this plaza provides little more than a break for lunch or a smoke for the office workers near by.


Alleyways: Fragmentation and Connectivity

by Hilary Clark

Location: Between 15th Ave. & University Way

I chose to explore alleyways around the University District in terms of how the fit into everyday urbanism as separate spaces and as corridors. Through my own exploration and referencing a few of the readings, I hope to capture how alleys function outside of the normal realm (deliveries and dumpsters). I believe they function as alternative pedestrian routes and as individual and discrete outdoor spaces.

Militarization of The Ave

by Nick Boyce

Location: The Ave, from 47th to 41st

The Ave (University Way NE) is the commercial core of the University District, attracting college students, bar-hoppers, and visiting academics alike. It is also known its higher-than-average homeless population. Instead of managing the site as a diverse mix of different demographics, the city would rather try to drive the homeless population away. By removing most of the public benches, even ones in bus stops, they are hoping the homeless people won’t hang out because there’s nowhere to sit. However, these “undesirable” people are relatively creative, and inevitably find somewhere to sit or hang out. It is the area’s more affluent and lucrative demographics who are turned off by the lack of public amenities. Ironically, these policies don’t deter the homeless population but do drive away wealthy shoppers to places like the University Village, ultimately making the homeless population on The Ave more visible. Design based on fear, rather than based off of creating dynamic public spaces, leaves The Ave worse for homeless people, students, shoppers, and businesses.

Articles on Los Angeles and New York City show that cities across America are making bad design choices in hopes of deterring the homeless population and other undesirable groups.

questioning waste

by Annika McIntosch

Location: hidden

Waste reveals. Dumpsters are fleeting urban archaeology sites. Cultural attitudes are recorded at the moment when materials are disposed of. Any number of things might be given new life through waste recovery, but the focus here is on food.

Items with expiration dates, produce that has overstayed its shelf life, and “day-olds” or “over-bake” from bakeries are the most frequently wasted and recovered foods. Delivery of waste occurs on a schedule and dumpsters are frequently moved or exchanged. “Dumpster diving” or “urban foraging” is technically illegal, and dumpsters often sit on private property. However, picking through unwanted waste is less punishable than taking another’s possessions, and generally ignored. Visits are quick, unobtrusive and efficient, and there is an unspoken code of conduct for those who “dive.” Sites are not physically inhabited for social purposes, although informal communities evolve as friends exchange tips and information by word of mouth or through internet groups.

People scavenge for economic, political, environmental or ethical reasons. Some intercept waste to challenge our “throwaway” culture and protest imbalanced resource distribution. Others want to save money. Either way, the implications of this revaluing of waste ultimately stretch beyond dumpsters to suburban hills of garbage.


Beneath Bridges: Wall of Death

by Jennifer Cho

Location: Beneath the University Bridge off 40th, along the Burke-Gilman Trail

On the western side of the University of Washington campus, the Burke-Gilman Trail passes just beneath the University Bridge before continuing west. This small pocket of leftover space, commonly referred to as the Wall of Death, was predominantly conceived as an overlapping of vehicular and pedestrian circulation; however, the space offers a multitude of public amenities. Despite its proximity to heavy traffic, the intersection is protected from the adjacent roads by a shift in elevation and sheltered from weather by the bridge overhead. The acoustical properties of the space make it suitable even for band practice. Lining either side of the trail are wild blackberry bushes that generally attract attention from local residents with sun-ripened berries. Opposite the large art installation is an inclined concrete plane used as a skate ramp in the summer. At the top of the ramp, several rows of concrete blocks allow for informal public seating and at night, this section offers the homeless a sheltered, flat place to sleep. As an example of micro-urbanism, the hidden intersection is significant because of its successful engagement of local users and the impressive variety of services it quietly offers to the University District’s diverse population.

Sit: Close to the shoreline

by Ya-Chi Fu

Location: end of 14th Ave. NW, end of 24th Ave. NW, along NW canal St., on N Northlake way, end of Brooklyn Ave.

There are some sides for to consider. The relationships, that be built among the professional designer, the users and the city, cause benches be closer to people’ s everyday life; the ways, that connect people and benches between theory and social practices and between thought and lived experience, make benches have urban meaning; the tactics, that manipulate the political, economic and scientific rationalities through time and space or vacuity, topos, deception, detour and bunker which involve peoples’ everyday life, lead benches have superior backgrounds arousing human activities around them.

In short, although micro urbanism are easily lost in the everyday life, the relationships among the professional designers, users and the city; the connection make benches have urban meaning; the tactics through time and space lead human activities in specified settings are three main examination to determine the proper and on purpose choices of right decisions for urban context and human activities.

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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