The laneway: Urbanism through the lens of interiority and heterotopia

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The laneway is an intimate form of functional space central to the historic evolution of cities. A balance of public and private, fast and slow, interior and exterior, laneways (or alleys) connect the past to the present in seemingly dichotomous ways. Underutilized and often understood as purely service zones, the laneway is often characterized as undesirable or deviant; however, laneways offer opportunities for incremental expansion and revitalization. Accommodating internal and incremental growth, recent socio-spatial adaptations of laneways reflect the history and site-specific nuances of communities. Diverse and collective needs showcase the vibrant culture, art, and unique characteristics of a city. The very expression of the laneway is temporal and creates "other spaces" within the urban environment. Here, the character of the city reflects a microcosm of urban life manifested as a quasi-interior condition. Serving as exterior skins but operating as interior spaces-deeply personal and intimate in scale, laneways express interiority, yet remain undeniably exterior domains. This chapter argues that laneways can be interpreted as interior spaces within the urban context, applying Michel Foucault's theory of heterotopia to reveal their interior urbanity. As heterotopic spaces, laneways connect old and new, public and private, practical and cultural, interior and exterior.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Interior Urbanism Theory Reader
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9780429443091
StatePublished - Mar 12 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 selection and editorial matter, Gregory Marinic. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • General Arts and Humanities


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