How Vancouver is reimagining underutilized laneways

It involves a surprising amount of pink paint, but we're into it

September 14, 2016

By Daniela Rodríguez Chevalier / Photo: More Awesome Now!

This coming Thursday, the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA) will transform the service alley that runs behind West Hastings Street between Seymour and Granville into a vibrant public gathering space, the first of many upcoming laneway makeovers slated for this fall.

The project More Awesome Now! is a partnership between the DVBIA, the City of Vancouver’s VIVA Vancouver program, and HCMA Architecture+Design. The plan? Turn laneways throughout the downtown core from utilitarian service corridors into friendly, public spaces where you’d actually enjoy spending time, with welcoming colours, warm lighting and seating spaces. “It is something new and different,” says Charles Gauthier from the DVBIA. “If you create opportunities for people to spend time in a space, they will do that.”

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For the pilot laneway, the walls have been painted bold pink and yellow, and furniture and basketball hoops will be added soon—all part of the “Play” theme specific to this site. “This area is primarily about work, surrounded by offices and retail,” says Darryl Condon, Managing Partner at HCMA Architecture + Design. “We were looking to find something complimentary to what was already there.”

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Though there are no definitive dates to when the next two laneways (one in the Granville entertainment district, the other off Alberni) will be transformed, the designs will also be themed in response to their location. “It’s a way of showing that this areas don’t have to be sort of monocultural,” Condon says. “They can accommodate a much wider range of activity, and that provides a more interesting city.”

The More Awesome Now West Hastings laneway has its official launch on Thursday, September 15, 2016 from 5pm-8pm. The public is invited to attend.

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