Alleyways And Other Spaces Between Buildings


A narrow space between or behind buildings, often used as a passageway. Oftentimes the owner of the strip of land is unclear. They tend to be left off official maps.

Alleyways (alleys) are liminal, in-between spaces.

Alleyways are both ‘territory’ and ‘network’.

Territory: A space where various facets of social life happen.
Network: Serving as connectors, between people and other spaces

Some alleyways are planned, whereas other alleyways are what happens to the strip of land that was not planned.

When we think ‘alleyway’ we think of an urban area, with high buildings on each side creating darkness. In rural areas, the equivalent would be ‘lane’ or ‘laneway’.

Henry Charles, Fox Lane at Ringwood, Hampshire.
  • spaces of refuge, especially for unhoused people (in the same symbol family as park bench and street corner)
  • where vibrant communities gather
  • shortcuts for through-traffic
  • dark and scary, with potential conflict
  • where residents put necessary items they don’t want on show e.g. rubbish bins
  • marginal places for marginalised people, seeking a little shelter
  • desired by real estate developers wishing to gentrify a neighbourhood
Still from the 1977 Japanese film Hausu directed by Nobuhiko Ôbayashi
Saturday Evening Post Cowboys and Indians 1951
Eyvind Earle (1916 – 2000) 1955 concept illustration for Disney’s Lady and the Tramp
French Sloan (1871-1951)
Come Over To My House cover
Settai Komura (Japan, 1887-1940) Snowy Morning
Jon Klassen for The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place
1878 John Singer Sargent Capri
Malcolm Drummond, 1910, Boyne Hill Vicarage in Maidenhead
Made with an AI art generator and free stock photography by Leif Niemczik on Unsplash

Header painting: Childe Hassam. The Hovel and the Skyscraper, 1904