20ft WIDE -- Creating Temporary Activations for Downtown Alleys - Austin, Texas Event





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Published on Apr 21, 2013

20ft Wide was held in Austin, Texas from April 17th to April 21st. The alley activated was alley #111 on 9th between Congress and Brazos.


"A case study in transforming a downtown alley into a vibrant public open spaceā€”the activation includes a mix of installations and multi-generational happenings connecting us with the dynamic past, present and future roles of Austin's urban alley system.

20ft Wide derives its name from the 20 feet that serve as the standard width for Austin's downtown alleys as noted on the 1839 city map by Edwin Waller.


Austin's downtown alleys remain largely unnoticed. Yet, these public spaces are in danger of being removed by super-block developments, which will alter the character and scale of the city fabric. 20ft Wide seeks to bring awareness and appreciation to this urban space, to foster discussion about the role of the alley in the city, while simultaneously generating new possibilities for its use.

Active with service functions and vehicular deliveries, the alley must be envisioned as a new kind of public space -- something temporary, dramatic, multi-use, and pop-up. Our intention for 20ft Wide is two-fold. First, is to underline the features of the alley, to elevate its presence and expose its utilitarian beauty. Second, is to transform the experience of the space. The installation creates a backdrop or context for new public activities to occur in this space in-between.

The design approach is simple yet dramatic. Inspired by a child's craft, colored twine knits the architectural elements of the alley, creating a sculpture of floating planes that soar above and extend out of the alley. These layers reshape the alley and provide an ever-changing perspective as one moves through the space. Integrated into these geometric forms, hundreds of paper origami cranes, created by local children, spring from a single fire stair, take flight, and spread into a natural formation as they head toward the sky. Together, these elements set the stage for the activities and people that will give this public space new life."


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