One of the biggest global issues of our time is climate change and living in South Florida, the effects of it have shifted architects’ approach to how they design our built environment to respond to this pressing issue. One local architecture firm is taking on an unconventional approach and exploring the idea of reimagining spaces most of us typically avoid: alleyways.
Typically reserved for trash collection and service and utility distribution, alleys have the potential to strengthen community and activate new uses through forward-thinking design. Through a report titled The Space Between, Miami Beach-based architecture firm KoDA reviews the underutilization of Miami Beach’s alleyways and reconsidering their use by prioritizing culture, community and environment.
“Climate change is forcing us to rethink our way of life and to rekindle our relationship with nature,” said KoDA Principal and Founder, Wesley Kean. “Our ambition through this proposal is to identify meaningful ecological, infrastructural, and cultural strategies to increase Miami Beach’s resiliency and improve the overall quality of urban life.”
Alleyways in Miami Beach are abundant but underutilized. KoDA’s proposal would provide Miami Beach with a design toolkit for how to approach alleys and how to further expand upon spaces that can improve mobility, reduce flooding, enhance urban ecologies, and maximize the cultural identity of the city.
The re-design of the alleyways calls for the inclusion of green spaces that foster recreational activities such as community gardens where locally sourced compost would be used to produce crops. A new green alleyway network would also allow for the opportunity to design playgrounds where families can engage on a social level but also engage in active learning through guided and unguided nature walks.
Alleyways also lend themselves to create opportunities for renewable energy initiatives such as the inclusion of solar canopies that can harness energy from the sun to increase preparedness for peak events and power failures. By engaging local artists, the alleyways can also serve as a destination for public art and cultural activities.
There is no “one size fits all” approach to the alleys of Miami Beach. Each alley has a unique set of circumstances that need to be carefully considered to maintain their particular service functions, while also staying true to the characteristics of the neighborhood in which they exist.
Commercial alleys serving blocks where commercial activities exist would be designed to include permeable surfaces that integrate and strengthen the connection with the shops, restaurants, and other retail types. Cultural alleys serving the block between historic art-deco buildings would require elevated walkways to connect new public realms at both street and rooftop level while allowing for service and utility below. Art activations in these alleys can also create a new art district on the beach. Residential alleys would be revamped to support micro-urban farming, as well as playgrounds and ecological trails that would transform the views of alley-facing apartments and provide new value for residents.
“This proposal presents an opportunity for Miami Beach to lead the world in an innovative case study that shows how a city can become more resilient while also promoting an exciting urban lifestyle,” added Kean.
The firm recently presented their plan to the City’s Land Use Committee and is pending approval.
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