Duvall Court is a redevelopment of a previously “unbuildable” set of alley lots in Washington DC, and thus a re-establishment of a thriving “alley neighborhood.”
The site began as housing for workers in a local brewery in 1893, with small-scale rowhouses sharing an inner portion of the city block. Over time these uses of the alley blocks were gradually diminished, until DC Zoning Code deemed them “unbuildable” lots. The outer perimeter rowhouses that had developed later became the preferred standard for the DC block, and the inner lots often were unused open space.
In 2016, DC changed the zoning code to allow these abandoned alley lots to be once again buildable, and thus Duvall Court was born. An investor gradually purchased all of the adjacent lots, and requested the design of a modern alley neighborhood. Seven new rowhouses of varying widths and lengths now occupy this site, with amenities such as walkable green roofs, parking on each lot, and abundant natural light.
The buildings are derived from one prototype with common architectural and site components. However, each house offers its own variation from a “kit-of-parts” depending on the possibilities of each individual site. Since these houses are small (the smallest being 9’ wide) efficient use of space, overlapping functions, flexibility, and simplicity of construction are common themes. This prototype alley house are an model for future neighborhoods of this type that are developing all around the city.