Vancouver's latest reimagined alleyway is now open to the public.
Situated beside the Orpheum Theatre, the backstreet was unveiled with a launch party on Thursday (August 9). Dubbed Ackery's Alley after a former manager of the Orpheum, the once-drab space has been transformed into an interactive, pedestrian-friendly zone with fresh paint, red and gold details that extend the Orpheum's opulent interiors outdoors, and a public-art installation dreamed up by local artist Alex Beim that encourages visitors to move and explore.
Titled FIELD, the display is comprised of a complex arrangement of lasers, sound devices, and light emitters that make up a large grid launchpad on the ground. Guests are invited to walk on and between the squares, their steps triggering different combinations of colours and sounds. The installation will operate in Ackery's Alley from 7 to 10 p.m. daily.
The Downtown Vancouver BIA, one of three organizations part of a nonprofit collective called More Awesome Now which is behind downtown Vancouver's activated laneways, hopes that the alley will encourage residents and tourists alike to spend more time in the city's public spaces.
"Why can’t a lane be used for garbage collection in the early hours of the morning, commuters on their way to work, morning deliveries and dancing, selfies and socializing in the afternoon and into the night?" Charles Gauthier, president and CEO of the Downtown Vancouver BIA, said in a news release.
Beim, whose creative firm Tangible Interaction is also responsible for Science World's interactive OH! exhibit, recruited Canadian composer Adam Lastiwka to produce a series of one-of-a-kind musical loops that will be played at Ackery's Alley. "In all of our work, we strive to create joy," Beim added. "We want to bring you into the moment to experience a genuine sense of connectedness with yourself and with others."
The revamped laneway was funded by the public through a crowdfunding campaign that collected more than $64,000 last summer. The project is spearheaded by the aforementioned More Awesome Now, which includes the Downtown Vancouver BIA, HCMA Architecture + Design, and the City of Vancouver. In 2016, that same group launched Alley Oop, a reimagined backstreet south of West Hastings between Granville and Seymour streets that has since played host to a number of community events.
The team has plans to redevelop a third downtown laneway, this one on Thurlow between Alberni and Robson streets, in the near future.
Check out the images and videos below for a preview of Ackery's Alley before you visit IRL.