Coolest Car Parks – Daily Ten
Car parks have the HQ divided. As a piece of architecture, they are worthy of further study as well as presentation. But they are very representative of the 20th century’s addiction to the combustion engine, a contributing factor to of many environmental woes.
Architecturally speaking, the car park is an interesting architectural element, and despite the protests from the green corner, here is our list of the coolest, most unique and in some cases awesome car parks in the world.
10. Volkswagen, Autostadt, Wolfsburg, Germany
The Autostadt is a visitors attraction at the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg, Germany. Designed to educate as well as entertain, the Autostadt provides visitors with information on all the major Volkswagen group brands. By far one of the coolest aspects of Autostadt are the 2 60m tall ‘car silos’ which house brand new Volkswagens. If you are lucky enough to have purchased your car directly from the factory, you get to watch your car being delivered to the ground floor via the very clever automated system.
Whilst not strictly a car park, this is certainly a car storage space that is oozing cool.
9. Eureka Tower Car Park, Melbourne
The Eureka Tower Car Park is on this list thanks to its amazing interior decorating. German graphic designer Axel Peemöller came up with this unique way finder system for the car park that visually reads from only one point. From every other direction these signs look like vector images painted onto the floors, doors, walls, in fact, every surface!
8. 1111 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach
When you get renowned architects Herzog + De Meuron to design you a car park, it isn’t simply going to vanish into the fabric of the city, its going to make a statement. 1111 Lincoln Road does exactly that. Rather than just being a concrete holding pen for the cars of the rich and wealthy that grace the promenades shops.
Built out of concrete, and containing shops and a restaurant as well as parking for 300 cars, this well lit sculptural, architectural statement isn’t shying away from its purpose, but rather screaming out loud.
7. Parc des Celestins, Lyon, France
Who said great architecture had to be above ground? The Parc des Celestins is a great example of why sometimes, in architecture, going underground is good. The Parc de Celestins is situated underneath the Place des Célestins, the home of the Opéra de Lyon, the 1993 Pritzer prize winner by Jean Nouvel. Down the central core of the car park is a light well lit from the street above, with a giant mirror residing its base that slowly rotates, dispersing the light around the 7 storey space. On the surface there is a periscope allowing passers by to peer into the cavernous space for what must by a rather unique view – its rare we find ourselves in a situation where we can look down upon great architecture.
The central core allows light to enter into the main car park levels through light wells in the walls.
6. Marina City Towers, Chicago
The Marina Towers are an identical pair of cylindrical towers in downtown Chicago, and both feature an exposed carpark on the first 19 (NINETEEN) floors. The exposed nature of the floors makes for quite a view from the street considering the car parks can hold a combined 896 cars. Designed by architect Bertrand Goldberg the tower complex is considered by many to be a significant turning point in the rejuvenation of many downtown American cities. The feature aspect of the car park is an interesting concept, in high contrast to the usual approach of hiding them away behind walls.
5. Michigan Theatre, Detroit
The decline of Detroit is a modern urban disaster story. Once a thriving metropolis, the downward slide of the city has mirrored the decline of its once thriving automotive industry. The city is certainly down on its knees, with an increase in all the negatives (crime, unemployment) and a decrease in prosperity and growth. Detroit has an illustrious architectural past, and many of its prominent landmarks have become abandoned as demand dries up. Interestingly though, one its most famous buildings, The Michigan Theatre had its demise during the rise of TV, and was closed in 1967. After consultation on its demolition, it emerged that the tower next door was not independently supported, and removal of the theatre to build a car park would lead to problems for its neighbour. The logical response was to create a car park within the theatres shell, and since 1977 that is exactly how the building has survived.
The interior of the car park is an eery historical artefact with many original features doting its remaining walls and ceiling, most notably being its volted ceiling.
4. Santa Monica Civic Center Parking Garage
If you’re building a car park, you could try and make it disappear into the urban fabric by creating a nondescript and bland building OR you could do what Moore Ruble Yudell Architects and Planners did with the Santa Monica Civic Center and make a real statement. The very nature of a car park means that it can never truly disappear from view (unless its underground ala Parc des Celestins), and logic generally dictates that as this is a non habitable building, its best to make it ‘invisible’. With such a large footprint this isn’t going to be possible, and making the most of the large frontage of a car park to make an architectural statement seem far more sensible to us.
Lit with an array of multi-coloured lighting systems, the building is LEED certified, and generates the majority of its power needs through the use of PV cells on the roof.
3. Car Park One Oklahoma City
Unlike the previous entry, this is one car park that certainly attempts to disappear into the urban fabric. Rather than do this through the use of concrete, the Car Park One has a light, airy appearance. Architects Elliott and Associates main aim, like the Santa Monica Ciic Center Parking Garage was to create a car park that didn’t scream ‘car park’, but through decidedly different means. The translucent mesh skin with wraps the building provides an all encompassing container to the structure to hide its use from public view whilst also allowing the buildings internal spaces to breathe – an important aspect of any car park.
2. Burda Car Park and Media Centre, Offenburg
It is often that a car park achieves an award nomination, yet alone win a RIBA Award. The Burda carpark by Ingenhoven & Overdiek is a great example of how a car park can form part of a complete vison and project. Blending seamlessly with the rest of the Offenburg project, this car park could quite easily have been used for a miriad of other purposes, but thankfully (at least for this Daily Ten), it is a car park!
1. Parkhaus Engelenschanze, Munster, Germany
Lastly today we have the Parkhaus Engelenschanze, designed by Petry – Wittfoht Freier Architekten of Stuttgart. This building occupies a rather prominent corner within the city, and as such required sensitive detailing. The frontage is heavily glazed, bringing the exterior surroundings flooding into the space. Atop the car park lives the accompanying offices. The clever use of exterior lighting is what really stands this car park apart, adding mood and suggestion to what would otherwise be a hostile and liveless space.
So there you have it, not every car park garage needs to be bland!