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Repurposing Parking Structures: The Future of Urban Spaces | KERB

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There is no doubt that parking will change in the future with car ownership plummeting and the emergence of autonomous or even flying vehicles. Architects are now looking at ways they can transform car parks from monolithic concrete blots into works of art with innovative facades, using them for energy production and flexible event space. 

Albert Cuyp Parking Garage, Amsterdam, Netherlands

1. Hybrid Services Space

In the more immediate future, KERB will be working with its clients to utilise car parks for more than just parking stationary vehicles. We see a future where car parks will also be:

  • Logistics and e-commerce hubs

  • Drop-off and pick-up zones 

  • Storage centres

  • Recycling centres 

  • Vehicle service centres

  • Drone depot and deployment towers

This not only frees up kerbside space in cities, but it also drives new revenue streams for property owners and operators.  

2. Underground innovation

Albert Cuyp Parking Garage, Amsterdam, Netherlands is hidden underneath a canal to free up more space on the kerbside. The borough of Amsterdam-Zuid (Amsterdam South) and the municipality of Amsterdam teamed upped to better utilise the space under the canals (which keep Amsterdam from flooding) for parking. You will find the long, narrow structure with 600 parking spaces and 60 bicycle spaces underneath the Boerenwetering Canal. Because of the underground parking, the De Pijp neighborhood able to turn almost all surface parking spaces in the surrounding area into playgrounds, squares and green spaces. 

As well as being a car park, these can be quickly converted into water reservoirs, an extension of water recycling units. These can then be used during floods to minimize damage and also supply safe drinking water to the public.

3. Housing

There is no denying that many countries around the world are experiencing a housing crisis. Cities have been repurposing old warehouses for housing since the 1930s, so it seems only likely that they will do the same with parking space. 

This is already happening in Boston, Los Angeles and retailer John Lewis has committed to developing 10,000 homes in car park sites above the retailer’s Waitrose supermarkets and next to its distribution centres.

Housing Pods

4. Rooftop Innovation

In any drone shot of any city these days, you will find flat roofs being repurposed into rooftop gardens and parks. But imagine if these were also farms? These would be fantastic places for citizens to grow their own food, learn about nature or even farm solar power. 

5. Healthcare Stations

During COVID-19, we saw car parks converted into drive-by testing and vaccination centres. Car parks clinics would be a convenient way to get a regular test done or receive a vaccination on the go. And it allows clinics to reach remote communities. 

6. E-Mobility Solutions

Car parks will become the new “petrol/gas station” because electric vehicles, autonomous or manned, still need to park to charge. City municipalities and the private sector are in a race to provide the charging infrastructure that will be needed to power these vehicles. The vast majority of charging infrastructure will be off-street, not kerb-side. Residential and commercial buildings across the developed and developing worlds are being fitted out with the electricity points and charging stations that will be required to service the tens of millions of electric vehicles which will soon replace vehicles powered by fossil fuels. KERB has a major role to play in this revolution. 

7. Event & Community Spaces

Car parks are ripe for converting into: 

  • Concert space
  • Nighclub
  • Food truck events 
  • Markets
  • Go-Kart raceways
  • Drive-in movies
  • Tenis courts
  • Gyms
  • Pakour centre
  • Obstable course
  • Skate park
  • Indoor VR gaming 
  • Paintball
  • Zoo
  • Art gallery

Car Park Garden in Thailand

8. Cemeteries

We are already running out of space in cities for cemeteries, car parks could be refitted to become cemeteries that allow citizens to visit their loved ones more regulary. 

 

As we can see, there are many ways that car parks can be repurposed to benefit cities and their residents. With a little creativity, car parks can be transformed into spaces that provide much needed services and amenities. We hope that more cities will explore these options in the future in order to make the most of their space 

 

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