On a recent walk through a hometown alley, I couldn’t help but notice the amount of service entries, access points, and interfaces that were exposed to the public at large. Garbage bins, grease pits, water pipes, electrical boxes, linen closets, and trap-like doors all pried or left open after a service call. Who and what is vulnerable when this happens?
Thoughtless acts — conditions of intuitive design by a generally naive user — offset these vulnerable conditions, adding a beauty and resulting in a sort of “timeless way” to the utility of the alley. Mops are set out to dry; soda cans nestled in between stacks of crates; coffee lids top off open pipes; trash piled in open manholes. The responsible parties are rarely seen but their presence is always felt.