"There's an alley renaissance going on around the world," says Sightline Daily, which reports on sustainability topics in Oregon, Washington State, and British Columbia. One of the promising places to explore it is in Vancouver, British Columbia, where the city government is encouraging property owners to construct "laneway houses."
Kamala Rao, an urban planner whose husband, Bryn Davidson, is co-owner of Lanefab Design/Build, specializing in laneway housing, defines these units as "basically miniature versions of single-family homes – in the range of 500 to 1,000 square feet – that are built in what has traditionally been the garage location of a single-family lot: in the backyard facing the lane."
Vancouver is having its own laneway renaissance, writes Rao. The municipal ordinance that authorized them was enacted in July 2009, and within less than a year, 100 such dwellings had been permitted. "Today," she says, "they are becoming a relatively common sight in the back alleys of many Vancouver neighborhoods."
Laneway housing was introduced as part of the Eco-Density Initiative, devised by former mayor Sam Sullivan and championed by current mayor Gregor Robertson. In this article, Rao explains the advantages these dwellings offer and provides a series photos (inside and out) and plans of the units.