Drôle House Blog

{DREAM} - Laneways reimagined

DREAM is a series of posts about ideas that are a little OUT THERE, to inspire a re-imagining of the built environment around us. If we can't dream it, how ever can we do it?

Have you heard of David Suzuki's Laneway Project? It's led by an urban design and planning organization that aims to tap the potential of Toronto's underused laneways. They estimate that there are 2400 publicly owned laneways covering more than 250km of linear public space throughout the city. In partnership with residents and businesses, they use murals, green paving and community events to get people thinking and using these out of sight, out of mind spaces differently.

It begs the question: if residential streets are for driving and parking cars owned by residents, why are laneways used the same way? Isn't it redundant? With every square foot at a premium in Toronto, garages can be repurposed as flex space and buffer the public and private spaces of a neighbourhood. Let's go wild for a minute and dream about what car-free laneways could be.

First, let's rip up all the asphalt. Yes, just go with it.

Plant native grasses and wildflowers. Let them grow wild. Wait.

Carve out mowed paths, labyrinths, clearings. Explore. Breathe it in.

The laneway is a greenway now. A park. A garden. 

The opaque faces of garage doors open up to reveal covered porches and family rooms, workshops and makerspaces, studios, even outdoor kitchens.

The laneway is now a safer place to inhabit, socialize, to play and to grow. 

Host summertime movie nights in a clearing.

Pour a rink for wintertime skating.

Carve out vegetable plots with access to this new sunlight.

Invite in gleaners from Not Far From The Tree to harvest and share the bounty from sweet cheery, pear, apple and apricot trees, raspberry and serviceberry bushes.

Host a traditional tomato canning party and exchange the bounty.

Can you see a flock of chickens in there somewhere?

What would you dream up?

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~Deborah