Changing To Lanes
Samara Macchia | On 20, Feb 2013
Ancient cities such as Paris and Rome are filled with lanes and side streets, all with enchanted treasures just waiting to be discovered. Quaint little boutiques, bookshops and cafes are scattered so deep into the vine covered stone walls that it is almost impossible to believe they’ve survived there for so many generations. We often lack this sense of discovery here in Australia, as businesses cry out for attention, leaping out in front of us at every opportunity. However as Brisbane begins to mature, you can see this kind of thinking start to be implemented into the architecture. Melbourne and Sydney have long ago adopted the implementation of lanes, with Melbourne’s Flinders Lane being one of the city’s hottest shopping spots. Now Brisbane designers, retailers and architects are waking up to the potential of laneways and side streets,
Here are a few examples, which have inspired me recently:
19 James Street
Architects, Richards & Spence’s new Fortitude Valley building, completed in 2012 has integrated lanes beautifully. The outer edges of the building are lined with boutiques, with small lanes coming off the four surrounding streets leading you through cafes and restaurants with tables spilling out into the lane. The atmosphere is very European, and the use of white bricks is nostalgic, bringing you back to another era.
The Santos Building in Brisbane’s CBD, designed by Donovan Hill and completed in 2009, has a 70 metre pedestrian lane, running through it’s ground floor. The lane links the Kurilpa bridge with Turbot Street and acts as a 24 hour public walkway. Walking through this laneway you will discover contemporary artwork, a café and a Japanese Restaurant. This cultural laneway is linked to the Gallery of Modern Art and has become the pedestrian link between Brisbane’s cultural precinct and the CBD.
Tucked away off Winn Street in Fortitude Valley, Winn lane is a beautiful example of what Brisbane needs more of. The quirky Flamingo Café at the entrance draws you into a small row of fashion boutiques, with a bookstore at the end and a hair salon somewhere in between. Winn Lane houses less than ten stores, and is the perfect place to find unique vintage and designer clothing and accessories.
To be confident enough to set your business in a lane, away from the high foot traffic of a main road takes courage, but it also carries a kind of charming arrogance with it. The many new laneways and hidden gems forming in Brisbane are a sign of the city maturing and lets hope there is more to come.