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Public Parking Spaces: Amazing Urban Interventions

Posted by
on August 07, 2018 at 01:55 PM

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As urban agglomerations grow in size, population and complexity, as metropolis put on more and more in girth and weight, one of the foremost concerns of their administrations is, undoubtedly, the adequate upgrade of transportation services and their associated infrastructure. Public parking spaces for all forms of private vehicles are an important component of this infrastructure that require considerable attention given the compounded increase in the number and use of privately owned vehicles. Be they cars or bicycles, people need to make use of them at least to reach a public transport node if not to make the entire journey, and therefore need a place to park them, especially at public transport nodes or hubs. While designs of public parking spaces in India have scarcely ever surpassed the level of rudimentary, cities all over the world are according the facility enough importance to emphasise and prioritise its design in terms of both, functionality and aesthetics. Let’s take a look at some really cool and inspiring public parking spaces which some of the best architects in the world have been called upon to design and deliver.

Colourful Potpourri at Museum Garage, Miami

Recently completed, this fascinating project has a reason to be called a potpourri. It is, in fact, a design potluck contributed by five different architectural studios! The building, though of mixed use typology by the merit of housing retail outlets on its ground floor and other public amenities like garden, playground, library and art gallery, is actually a 7 storey parking space facilitating around 800 vehicles, servicing a district which is deemed Miami’s art and culture hub.

The project and district developer studio Tim Haas commissioned Terence Riley of K/R Architecture to create a bold façade for the parking structure. Riley, in his turn, got inspired by the surrealist parlour game Cadavre Exquis (translated as Exquisite Corpse, where multiple artists create their own pictures in mutual oblivion such that their pictures finally come together on a single surface to form a single artwork), and invited four other architects viz. WORKac, Jurgen Mayer H, Clavel Arquitectos and Nicholas Buff, asking each of them to design a part of the façade. 

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Resultantly, on the NE corner of the building we have the meeting of two types of façade designs – WORKac’s ant farm inspired curvaceous pink screens are like pieces of a giant jigsaw that reveal the lending library, garden, playground and other interiors in parts and J Mayer H’s aerodynamic shapes and colourful designs of perforated screens in interlocking patterns that are part of his façade design labelled XOX (hugs and kisses). Adjacent to this is the façade work called Urban Jam by Clavel Arquitectos which comprises 45 gold and silver coloured cars mounted on a vertical grid with embedded lights, evoking a traffic jam. Continuing where this ends is K/R Architecture’s Barricade – a composition of panels of orange and white striped pattern which is typical of traffic barricades used in the US with panels of mirror steel framed voids with planter boxes jutting out. The façade along 41st street is adorned by French architect Nicolas Buffe’s black and white composition based on Anime, Manga, Baroque and Greek revival imagery including 3D sculptures and gargoyles.

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What an eclectic mash! And yet, it is stunningly, eye-catchingly pleasing, this architectural version of Exquisite Corpse. The very thought that city administrators and developers were game to this experiment and trusted five different studios and their fabricators to match up to such crazy expectations with such fantastic deliveries is mind-blowing. And, what can one say about the idea of using the parking structure’s exterior to showcase a variety of talent? 

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Oriental Exotica at Car Park, Zwolle

This is another charming example of making the best aesthetic showcase of a public utility. Of course, it is located in the Netherlands, so the sense of design finesse displayed is hardly surprising. But, the unexpected lies in the choice of style or theme, wherein the parking structure is enveloped in the folds of an eastern fortress, invoking the Caravan Serais of Asia and Africa. The structure designed by DOK architects has a brick façade textured varyingly in five different and subtle patterns, accentuated effectively by spotlights after dark.

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This dreamy castle is packed with state-of-the-art technology whether it comes to its parking function or its eco-friendliness and sustainability. A whopping 800 sq meters of solar panels generate alternative energy to light up the space and run its tech. While the lights are all energy efficient LED, they light up only on sensing activity. The efficient routing system of vehicles inside ensures minimal venting of exhaust fumes from them. What’s more, cars can be charged while they’re parked at the 28 charging points provided. The building also embraces nature in its warm wrap with a hanging garden adorning one of its sides and turrets or perforations in its brick façade offering resting space to native birds!

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Techno-aesthetics at Bicycle Parking, Amsterdam

The recently built Strawinskylaan Bicycle Parking near Amsterdam Zuid rail station in the Netherlands is a study in perfection for a state run public utility service – technologically acute, aesthetically sleek, functionally smooth and conceptually simple. A simple 4200 sq m basement structure with a generous floor height of 3.3 m which adds parking places for 3,700 bicycles to the existing capacity in the locality, it can be approached at two different ends. Those de-boarding from trains at the station can completely avoid the road by taking the pedestrian viaduct to their bicycle parking, whereas the main approach for cyclists is from the busiest bicycle path of Strawinskylaan.

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The entry or access points, which house comfortable ramps and stairs, are cased in elegant glass pavilions that leave the ground surface above, a park soon to be redeveloped into a public square, visually undisturbed. These are supported on canopies of pentagonal steel frames which cantilever out from steel posts akin to tree branches, setting the tone for subtle aesthetics. The Pentagon can be seen repeated as a thematic form in light islands in the ceiling which are again held up by sturdy branched columns. The no-fuss epoxy flooring, the acclimatised lighting that emulates day-light, the ample ventilation and the efficient organisation makes the space a joy to operate in for both, the users as well as the maintenance workers. The designers perceived the facility as a public interior space as well as an underground outdoor space which is an extension of the square above!

© Courtesy of internet resources
© Courtesy of internet resources

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