Nothing elevates the lowly alley into public space like the integration of natural Porphyry stone pavers.  Porphyry, the timeless stone, known for its beauty, either as cubes or dimensional stone can immediately provide the atmosphere of elegance and permanence. Surrounded by plantings or sculptures in the context of contemporary or traditional, the upgrade of these dense urban pedestrian areas should be done in a beautiful material whose qualities will enable it to be in place for a century or more.


Activating Alleys for a Lively City

This Seattle Integrated Alley Handbook was produced by Mary Fialko and Jennifer Hampton of the University of Washington who collected data for 300 alleys in Seattle and had this to say:

Alley Shapes Sizes[1]“Alleys are an important part of our city network, providing space for trash, service trucks, underground parking access, deliveries, and fire access. While alleys serve many valuable and irreplaceable functions, they are often wrongly ignored in the day to day city life of  Seattle citizens! Alleys can become places for recycling centers and bike storage. They have the potential to foster small business owners and cafés, provide shelter from the elements, create settings for festivals and nightlife, and strengthen the city experience and identity of Seattle. These small but mighty spaces could play an important role for the city, as places for the public, ecological corridors, and community builders.

Over the summer of 2010, we set out to learn more about Seattle alleys and also the alley projects around the world. To be able to propose change, we first needed to discover what was currently happening in alleys. We visited a few hundred alleys in Seattle, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Brooklyn, London, and Cambridge, taking notes all the while. Armed with our research and data, we are evaluating the current role alleys have within different parts of the urban environment in order to understand and build on the potential. Our goal is to provide urban inspiration for people looking to influence cities all over the world.

Our alley research began as a project sponsored by the Scan Design Foundation, UW Green Futures Lab, and Gehl Architects. We heart alleys and are truly excited to work with and invigorate these great urban spaces.”

This guidebook provides inspiration and tools for reclaiming this extensive network for the public realm.


Download the Guide

About Green Futures Lab

The University of Washington Green Futures Lab (GFL) develops innovative approaches to the ecological planning and design of public space through interdisciplinary research, design and education. Faculty and students advance solutions related to urban green infrastructure – streets, trails, parks, open spaces, drainages and shorelines – systems that together comprise interconnected networks of the public realm.

About Gehl Architects of Copenhagen

“We focus on the relationship between the built environment and people’s quality of life. Gehl Architects is an urban research and design consultancy. We address global trends with a people-focused approach, utilizing empirical analysis to understand how the built environment can promote human flourishing. We apply this analysis to strategic planning and human-centered design to empower citizens, decision makers, company leaders, and organizations.”



Porphyry’s composition determines its high compression strength, resistance to stains, slip resistance, and high freeze/thaw ratings.  The stone is the most popular paver in Europe, and is favored for its flexibility in design, beauty, durability and low maintenance requirements. ADA Compliant Porphyry pavers are also adaptable to a permeable paving set. The stone is by far one of the most durable pavers in the world.  These materials are available from Milestone Imports.   –