Sanctuary Lane | Ideathon Challenge 2019

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Sanctuary Lane

Laneway Activation Plan

Project Team Veronica Chan Nadine Deiter Kurtis Li Daniel Tan Kyle Vinson PLAN 211 University of British Columbia December 2019 v1.0

This project was completed as part of the 2019 Ideathon Challenge, which is the final project of PLAN 211 “City-Making: A Global Perspective� at UBC. This project was completed in one month. December 2019 v1.0

We are the Backstreet Builders That is the name of our project team! We are a five person interdisciplinary team comprised of undergraduates at the University of British Columbia.

Project Team in alphabetical order Veronica Chan

Second Year Undergraduate Major: B.A. Philosophy

Nadine Deiter

Second Year Undergraduate Major: B.A. Human Geography

Kurtis Li

Second Year Undergraduate Major: B.ASc. Material Engineering

Daniel Tan

Second Year Undergraduate Major: B.A. Geography (Environment & Sustainability)

Kyle Vinson

Second Year Undergraduate Major: B.A. Geography (Environment & Sustainability) Minor: Urban Studies

Instructor Dr. Su-Jan Yeo

Course Instructor School of Community and Regional Planning University of British Columbia


Sanctuary Lane // Laneway Activation Plan

Cover Image: Edited by: Backstreet Builders Building Footprints: City of Vancouver1

CONTENTS 1.0 Introduction pg. 5 1.2 1.3

Problem Definition 1.2.1 Objective 1.2.2 Constraints Site Analysis 1.3.1 Splitting the Lane

pg. 5

pg. 6

2.0 Central Idea pg. 8 3.0 Goals pg. 10 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4

Improving Personal Experience Promote Urban Ecology Develop a Sense of Place Develop a Sense of Ownership

4.0 Strategies pg. 12 4.1 4.2 4.3

Providing a Clean and Comfortable Environment 4.1.1 Dumpster Placement 4.1.2 Improve Traffic Safety 4.1.3 Improve Lighting 4.1.4 Shelters

pg. 12

Urban-Nature Integration pg. 14 4.2.1 Creeper Frames 4.2.2 Green Roofs 4.2.3 Planter Boxes 4.2.4 Grasscrete Infusing Local Art & Culture 4.3.1 Chalkboards 4.3.2 Painted Roads 4.3.3 Dumspter Cover Art 4.3.4 Amateur Music

pg. 16

Backstreet Builders



Infusing Local Art & Culture 4.4.1 Volunteer Committee 4.4.2 Event Organization 4.4.3 Local Laneway Engagement 4.4.4 Community Collaboration 4.4.5 Community Website

pg. 18

5.0 Illustrations pg. 20 6.0 Development Phase pg. 23 7.0 Implementation: Phase One

7.1 7.2

pg. 24

Following Up Feedback Website

8.0 Implementation: Phase Two

pg. 25

9.0 References pg. 27


Additional Documentation

Appendix 1 pg. 28 Dumpster Cover CAD Model Appendix 2 pg. 29


Site Analysis

Sanctuary Lane // Laneway Activation Plan

1.0 Introduction This laneway activation project is centred around Main Alley which is situated in Mount Pleasant, one of Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhoods which in recent years has been transformed into a vibrant and eclectic zone of diverse developments and land uses2 . The project’s goals were to create a site which enhanced the quality of life of residents and users in the immediate area while remaining coherent and compatible with both the current and future characteristics of the surrounding area.

1.2 Problem Definition The current laneway is unpleasant and discourages pedestrian usage. It is a space which contains waste and offers little in the way of visual appeal. The laneway does not fit the current “identity” of the Mt. Pleasant neighbourhood as it is currently underused and holds little value for the community and its members.

1.2.1 Objective

1.2.2 Constraints

This project aims to revitalize the laneway area and allow for the introduction of the community to a newly developed, functional and modified space. The aim is to re-purpose the laneway, which will allow for people to gather, relax, and enjoy their community.

• The south site (south of E 8th Ave) is unsuitable for road closures due to new condo development having parking garages exit onto the lane.3 • Vehicular access for current and future residential/commercial developments should be maintained. • Laneway must maintain a minimum width clearance of 4.26m, and a minimum height clearance of 5.79m to maintain access for waste management vehicles.4 • No modifications to heritage building facades. • Maintain visibility for existing murals. • Dumpster access must be maintained for residential/commercial users.

Current site conditions. E 8th Ave looking north. Img Credit: Backstreet Builders

November 1, 2019

Backstreet Builders


1.3 Site Analysis E 7th Ave

North Site

Event Space

E 8th Ave

South Site

Current 99 B-Line UBC Stop

Main St


Quebec St

7 1/2 Ln

Community Centre & Library

Encourage Pedestrian Use

E Broadway St

Future Mt. Pleasant Station

Edited by: Backstreet Builders | Orthophoto Source: City of Vancouver5 | Transit Data: Province of British Columbia6

Project Location


49°15'49.4"N 123°06'06.4"W

Length: ~178m // 584’ Width: 6.0m // 20’


Sanctuary Lane // Laneway Activation Plan

1.3.1 Splitting the Lane

South Site The South site is not suitable for road closure7 , instead the project will encourage pedestrian utilization of the lane without impeding vehicular usage.

Img Credit: Backstreet Builders

The lane is split along E 8th Ave into two sites. The North site, and the South site. N

North Site The North site is more suitable for temporary closures, the project team sees the north as an opportunity for both encouraging pedestrianization and creating an ad-hoc event space.

Sketch of the current south site. Looking north from E Broadway St. Backstreet Builders


2.0 The Central Idea Responding to the unique conditions and problems observed in the site, the project is based on the central concept of leveraging on the laneway to create a sanctuary within the surrounding urban block. The first key idea inherent to the concept of a sanctuary is that of respite, which is applied across three important dimensions:



The envisioned laneway will provide a space of psychological respite from the unceasing sense of motion and activity that permeates the block. The laneway presents an ideal opportunity to inject an alternate soundscape and energy to the busy entertainment district which is only likely to witness a heightened level of foot traffic and activity upon the completion of the SkyTrain station. Creating a site which facilitates activities of rest and relaxation are integral to achieve a sense of play-rest balance within the area.

This project envisions the laneway as an opportunity to achieve a greater level of urbannature integration in an area that is currently lacking in significant green space. In doing so, it seeks to leverage various ecosystem services in order to improve human health, manage runoff and regulate noise pollution.


Sanctuary Lane // Laneway Activation Plan

Physical To facilitate the existing and future uses of the space, the laneway is conceptualized as a publicly accessible space providing protection from the elements around the year.

Img Credit: Backstreet Builders

Another key idea central to the concept of the sanctuary which the project seeks to create is that of ‘escape’. The laneway is envisioned as an opportunity to break the monotony of the urban block and in doing so, achieving a sense of balance in its contrast with the characteristics of the surrounding area. In doing so, what the project hopes to create at the site is a sense of surprise and discovery amongst the various users of the surrounding blocks.

Adding planters is an easy and affordable way to introduce greenery Backstreet Builders


3.0 Goals 3.1

Improving Personal Experience


Promote Urban Ecology


Develop a Sense of Place


Develop a Sense of Ownership


To give people a sense of discovery when entering the laneway. The solutions would help create a place for rest, refuge and sanctuary. The final design would attract individuals of all types, enhancing the experience of current users and inviting new visitors to the laneway.

The prominent materials seen in the laneway are brick, metal and concrete. The final design would aim to create a balance between urban development and natural infrastructure to promote environmental well-being, while further encouraging the themes of respite and escape. Added greenspace would not only provide colour to the laneway, but also help differentiate the Sanctuary from the surrounding urban developments.

The local area displayed a deep cultural connection to the neighborhood, which the project aims to incorporate into the laneway upgrades. Temporary art galleries, murals, community design platforms and performance spaces offer to infuse local art and culture to develop a sense of place.

A sense of ownership would allow the community to take pride in this project and step into the forefront of laneway operations. The final design would unite the community to provide the opportunity for the Mount Pleasant area to activate with maintenance programs, community-run activities and taking control and responsibility of their laneway.

Sanctuary Lane // Laneway Activation Plan

Existing laneway mural November 1st, 2019

Img Credit: Backstreet Builders

Backstreet Builders


4.0 Strategies 4.1

Providing a Clean and Comfortable Environment

To encourage the use of the laneway by community members, the project aims at providing an environment that is clean, safe and enjoyable for all visitors. 4.1.1 Dumpster Placement

4.1.2 Improve Traffic Safety

Dumpsters will be placed on the east wall away from pedestrian activity, in hopes to better visually represent the laneway. Covers will also be placed on top of the dumpsters to decrease odour and aid in the visual perception of the laneway, as well as hygiene.

Brightly painted buffers of 1.5m (5’0�) will be added on each side of the laneway, intended for the purpose of marking areas for use by pedestrians only. Painted artwork will also appear on the road, with the intent of acting as a deterrent for vehicular traffic.

4.1.3 Improve Lighting

4.1.4 Shelters

String lights will be installed along the utility poles, and anywhere else deemed appropriate, in order to improve pedestrian visibility and safety in the laneway. String lights may provide an opportunity for artist created lanterns.

In partnership with enhancing urban ecology, covered seating areas will be installed to ensure visitor comfort. The shelters will appear in areas where vegetation is also present to maximize visitor contentment and to enhance the laneway’s visual appeal.


Sanctuary Lane // Laneway Activation Plan


Img Credit: Backstreet Builders

Stylized site plan of lane in phase two.


Backstreet Builders



Urban-Nature Integration

To enhance the urban ecology of the area, the project seeks to weave a greater level of greenery into the urban fabric. 4.2.1 Creeper Frames

4.2.2 Green Roofs

So that users of the laneway perceive a sense of being enveloped by greenery and nature, the project will attempt to ensure that plants are well proliferated across the area. A low cost solution to achieve this is through the installation of a low-cost metal frame along the walls on both sides of the lanway. Have the walls lining the laneway covered by vegetation also has the effect of buffering noise coming from the busy streets at the ends of the laneway, creating a tranquil environment for users.

The roofs of shelters will provide a further opportunity to introduce vegetation into the laneway. These green roofs will not only help to reduce run-off but also contribute to a unique aesthetic for each shelter.

4.2.3 Planter Boxes Planter boxes introduced along the laneway will not only add to the greenery of the site, but will also create opportunities for community gardening projects, allowing residents of the surrounding area to take ownership of the greening of the site. These planter boxes will also allow the introduction of larger species of plants which may not be accommodated for by the other solutions introduced in this segment.

4.2.4 Grasscrete In the long run, the project will entail the introduction of a “Grasscrete� running down the middle of the laneway. The grasscrete will contribute to the amount of greenery and deter non-commercial drivers from using the laneway. At the same time, it will contribute vital ecosystem services such as reducing the runoff from East Broadway to East and 7th Avenue.

Grasscrete pavement system: hollow concrete blocks with live grass that can support vehicular traffic. Img Credit: Sustainable Paving Systems LLC. 8 14

Sanctuary Lane // Laneway Activation Plan

Section view of project site in Phase two.

Img Credit: Backstreet Builders


Existing Building


Reclaimed Public Space

Existing Building

6.0 m 20’ 0”

Example of 4.2.2 Green Shelters Img Credit: Backstreet Builders Backstreet Builders



Infusing Local Art & Culture

To ensure that community members and visitors feel a sense of place within the laneway, the project aims at infusing artistic and musical components with cultural identities present within the community.

Artistic depiction of dumpster covers with art. Img Credit: Backstreet Builders

Artistic depiction of street furniture implementation on the lane Img Credit: Backstreet Builders

Back of 2321 Main St Pedestrianized Lane


Sanctuary Lane // Laneway Activation Plan

4.3.1 Chalkboards

4.3.2 Painted Roads

To encourage community participation in developing the laneway, visitors will be encouraged to create temporary art on chalkboard that will be set up on walls, utility poles and dumpster covers.

In accordance with improving pedestrian safety in the laneway, artful conceptions will be painted on the road by local artists, which will incorporate the art interests of the Mount Pleasant community.

4.3.3 Dumpster Cover Art

4.3.4 Amateur Music

Visitors will be encouraged to participate in fabricating temporary creative artwork designs for the covers of dumpsters located in the laneway. The artwork will be permitted in areas where chalkboard style paint occurs, and will be monitored by the community. See Appendix 1 for CAD Model.

Amateur musicians will be encouraged to perform during specified hours, and will have the chance to perform in the allotted events space where lighting pads will be implemented in phase 2 of the project.

Back of 2337 Main St Public Event Space

Vehicle Access to Property Backstreet Builders



Infusing Local Art & Culture

To ensure that community members and visitors feel a sense of place within the laneway, the project aims at infusing artistic and musical components with cultural identities present within the community.

4.4.1 Volunteer Committee The organization of a team of volunteers will be encouraged for the maintenance and preservation of the laneway. The Mount Pleasant Community Centre and surrounding schools will be encouraged to form volunteer groups that will meet on a weekly basis to host cleanup sessions for the laneway.

4.4.2 Event Organization The Mount Pleasant Community Center (MPCC) will be encouraged to form a group of event planners to coordinate and manage any future activities that will take place within the laneway. The decisions made about the types of events to be hosted will be up to a group that represents the interests of community members.

7 1/2 Ln 18

Sanctuary Lane // Laneway Activation Plan

4.4.3 Local Laneway Engagement

4.4.4 Community Collaborations

The Sarah McLachlan School of Music will be asked for their support in generating an image for the laneway through the introduction of musical performances to the area, within the space behind the Music Schools building.

In coordination with the ideas to infuse local art and culture into the laneway, a focus will be on facilitating collaborations between waste management companies and schools to create a set of designs for the planned dumpster covers.

4.4.5 Community Website In order to continuously upgrade the laneway to best suit the community, a website will be developed to generate comments and suggestions to help establish areas for necessary upgrades in the laneway. The website will also be used to announce upcoming events and activities and will be managed by the Mount Pleasant Community Centre event organization group. Artistic depiction of event stage using the loading dock of 138 E 8th Ave.


Img Credit: Backstreet Builders

Main Alley Music Festival


Event Stage

138 E 7th Ave Backstreet Builders


5.0 Illustrations


Sanctuary Lane // Laneway Activation Plan

E Broadway Street looking north into the project site. Artistic depiction of phase two of Sanctuary Lane. Img Credit: Backstreet Builders

Backstreet Builders


Img Credit: Backstreet Builders Img Credit: Backstreet Builders

Artistic depictions of people using the lane showing multiple design iterations.


Sanctuary Lane // Laneway Activation Plan

6.0 Development Phase Projected Duration: 6 months The development phase prepares for the implementation of the project plan by introducing collaborators, devising detailed schedules, and collecting the necessary documents.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Host focus group sessions with businesses along the laneway to convey the economic opportunities that will arise from our proposed plan, and thereafter attempt to raise financial contributions for specific projects (shelters, wire structure for creepers, seating accommodations, etc.). Recruit local artists and volunteers who would be in charge of painting the laneway. Concurrently, find collaborators like the School of Music to to hold performances behind their building (dock area).

Facilitate collaborations between waste management companies and schools to create a set of designs for the dumpster covers intended to improve the hygiene of the laneway. Meetings with Mt. Pleasant Community Centre and local schools to create volunteer groups to schedule weekly cleanup sessions. All necessary documents and permits are to be collected. This includes permits to allow for pedestrianization and health inspection documents that zone specific areas for food vending units.

Project Timeline

Project timeline is subject to change

Backstreet Builders


7.0 Implementation: Phase One Projected Duration: 2.5 years The first 6 months of Phase One would be for the installation of temporary and semi-permanent solutions. This calls for the completion of the following by the end of the one-year mark since the beginning of this project.


Local artists will paint an eye-catching buffer zone on either side of the laneway, facilitating the pedestrianization of the strip to encourage its use.


Install wire structures for wall climbing plants on the facade of buildings.


Dumpster covers, string lights, shelters and planters will be put in place.

7.1 Following Up

7.2 Feedback Website

A follow-up phase that lasts for two years would assess the place for its performance and usage. Ongoing monitoring is necessary to understand the success of specific projects and to identify improvements that can enhance the laneway. Follow-up surveys that question nearby business owners and workers, commuters, and residents will give insight into which installations are valuable and which ones needed refinement. In addition, a review with volunteer groups for cleanliness assessment will be needed.

A website would be set up for the laneway to the general public comment on their thoughts or experience in the laneway, as well, suggest potential upgrades they intend on seeing. Most importantly, the website will announce upcoming events taking place in the laneway and receive applications for collaborators who want to hold events.


Sanctuary Lane // Laneway Activation Plan

8.0 Implementation: Phase Two Projected Duration: 6 months Phase Two of this project will begin after the follow-up phase and when property development happens in the Mt. Pleasant area. These developments will become the source of funding for phase two of the project plan, which require negotiations between private developers and the city. Community Amenity Contributions (CACs), which are monetary contributions provided by developers when City Council grants development rights through rezoning9 , can be used to expand the city’s facilities, and thereby, improve our laneway.

The first 2 months of Phase Two would be for the installation of more permanent solutions. This calls for the completion of the following:


Instead of the paint on the South site, Grasscrete will be installed to reduce runoff to the North site (event space) due to the slight slope on the site.


On the North site, light pads will be installed.


Any upgrades that is in the community’s interest according to collected data from the website and follow up surveys.

This project will enter the last and longest stage upon completion of these upgrades and improvements/maintenance. Factors including volunteer groups, collaborators, and the laneway website, that ensure the continuation of the project’s success must be maintained. Moreover, when future building regulations require dumpsters to enclosed within new buildings, the implemented dumpster covers become useless. However, these can be reused in other parts of the city to inspire other laneway activation projects.

Backstreet Builders


Img Credit: Backstreet Builders


Sanctuary | Action Plan

Vandalized dumpster November 1st, 2019

9.0 References 1

City of Vancouver. “Building Footprints 2009 GIS Data.” Vancouver, BC, 2009.

2 City of Vancouver. “Mount Pleasant.” City of Vancouver. City of Vancouver, n.d. 3 City of Vancouver . “138 E 8th Ave (Complete Application).” 138 E 8th Ave (Complete Application). City of Vancouver, February 21, 2018. E 8th Ave.pdf. 4 City of Richmond. “Waste Management Design Guidelines.” Waste Management Design Guidelines. City of Richmond, n.d. 5

City of Vancouver. BCVANC15_P13. Photograph. City of Vancouver, 2015. City of Vancouver Open Data.


City of Vancouver. “138 E 8th Ave (Complete Application).”

7 Province of British Columbia. “Broadway Subway Project.” Broadway Subway Project. Province of British Columbia, September 2018. 8 “Partially Concealed: Sustainable Paving Systems Grasscrete Pavements.” Sustainable Paving Systems. Sustainable Paving Systems, LLC, n.d. productsgrasscretepartially-concealed-grasscrete-system/. 9 City of Vancouver. “Community Amenity Contributions.” City of Vancouver. City of Vancouver, n.d. https://


Additional Resources During the design process, the project team frequently referred to the following documents. Broadway Plan Area Profile City of Vancouver, 2019 Mount Pleasant Community Plan City of Vancouver, 2010 Mount Pleasant Community Plan Implementation: Public Realm City of Vancouver, 2013

Backstreet Builders


Appendix 1

Software: CAD Model produced in SolidWorks

Dumpster Cover CAD Model


Sanctuary Lane // Laneway Activation Plan

Site Analysis

Appendix 2

Data Source: City of Vancouver Open Data, Open Street Maps Projection: NAD83 UTM Zone 10 Software: Site plan original doucument uses legal size paper. Site Map produced using ArcMap 10.6.1

E 7th Ave

Laneway Project Site

> >


Ø >



"Site B"


^ 138




Ø >>


7 1/2 Ln >



2339 133



E 8th Ave






> >


Site Plan



Project Site




Site Boundaries Existing Buildings


Parking Lot


Heritage Site


Existing Manhole Cover


Existing Utility Poles


Ø 2425

Block Boundaries 141 Data Source: City of Vancouver, Open Street Maps November 2019 UBC PLAN 211 Backstreet Builders










E Broadway St

Ø > >

Backstreet Builders


Img Credit: Backstreet Builders

E 8th Ave looking south into the lane. November 1st, 2019

This project was completed as part of the 2019 Ideathon Challenge, which is the final project of PLAN 211 “City-Making: A Global Perspective� at the University of British Columbia This project was completed in one month.


Sanctuary Lane // Laneway Activation Plan

“By far the greatest and most admirable form of wisdom is that needed to plan and beautify cities and human communities.� - Socrates

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.�

- Jane Jacobs