In Córdoba, Argentina, an eight-foot-wide passageway between buildings is now home to a luminous, modern restaurant, thanks to architect Ernesto Bedmar.
Since the late 1980s, some of Toronto’s most creative architects have been finding sites on laneways—back alleys—on which to build houses, coming up with inventive ways to achieve privacy and space in these cramped quarters. Architects Christine Ho Ping Kong and Peter Tan wanted to push that effort to an extreme with a private house totally sealed off from the street, where all the windows looked inward.
Opening up this cramped Manhattan apartment included revitalizing a dark alley out back. Indoors and out are synthesized by an 8-by-15-foot glass door—the largest expanse that could pass through the alleyway—and ipe wood slats that run from indoors to out.
San Francisco’s modernists are often faced with the issue of building within a firmly established stylistic tradition. Henry Hill’s 1947 renovation of a 1908 Victorian tucked away on an alley in historic Russian Hill provides a remarkable response to the dilemma.
The five-foot wide Keret House was built in an alley in Warsaw, Poland. Working within such tight boundaries, architect Jakub Szczesny was forced to get creative with the design. While the layout might be too sparse for a full-time home, Szczensny’s intent was to create a temporary home for a rotating roster of artist tenants and to push the boundaries of small space living.
Chinese firm ARCHSTUDIO transformed a Qing Dynasty-era structure in a Beijing hutong, or alleyway, into a bright, airy tea house.