The world’s coolest car parks

Car parks aren’t usually a top priority for architects. They often consist of no more than some tar slapped onto a flat surface and dissected with white lines or, at the most, a bleak multi-storey maze of concrete pillars.

But as the demands of drivers and cities change, putting ever more pressure on both the designer and their resources, the humble car park has had to step up. The 10 parking garages assembled here all have a fresh take on a staid concept and run the whole gamut from the brilliant to the downright weird. Don’t forget to tell us your favourite in the comments section below.

Once a glamorous movie theatre boasting crystal chandeliers and marble sculptures, the Michigan Theatre was destined for demolition when the developers realised it formed an integral part of adjoining buildings, so it was relegated to a three-level car park instead. Considering it stands on the birthplace of the first Ford model, this almost seems like destiny.

More closely resembling grain silos than car parks these 20-floor tall CarTowers can swallow a massive 800 cars. Located at the VW-themed Autostadt park in Wolfsburg, new customers have the option of collecting their new set of wheels from the facility where a robotic arm picks out their vehicle from the beehive of stored cars.

More a parking sculpture than anything else this striking car park was the brainchild of Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, most famous for designing the Beijing Bird’s Nest stadium. Light, airy and refreshingly open, the seemingly incomplete $70 million creation didn’t come cheap but proves beyond any doubt functional needn’t be dull.

Serving as the parking lot to the tallest building in Melbourne, the developers of the Eureka Tower could easily have resorted to a dull utilitarian parking garage. Instead they allowed designer Axel Peemoeller to play around with clever graphics, which appear completely abstract and distorted but snap into orderly alignment when you drive past.

Known locally as ‘The Community Bookshelf’ the wall of the Kansas library’s car park features 22 striking spines of well-known books, each standing approximately 25ft tall, with the two stairwells on either end acting as bookends. While some may deride it as too theme-parkish, many laud the library for turning a dull car park into a feature.

Drive up to the car park linked to Dubai’s impressive Ibn Battuta Gate and you could be forgiven for thinking it nothing more than a single garage. But behind its unpretentious facade hides the world’s largest robot car park – capable of storing 765 vehicles and dealing with a staggering 250 cars an hour.

Built on top of a Korean barge, this floating parking boat’s suitable maritime design ensures it blends right into its setting in Gotenburg’s city centre harbour. When loaded to its 400-car capacity the barge only dips a few inches deeper below the waterline, but even more impressive is its ability to be towed to another location if the city’s parking situation ever demanded such a move.

Admittedly more promotional exercise than practical application, the Smart Towers found in over 70 locations throughout Europe successfully hint at the dinky car’s playful image.

Chicago is nicknamed the ‘Windy City’ for good reason, so the designers of Greenway car park set out to harness the city’s gusts to help power the building. It uses giant pairs of corkscrew wind turbines stretching from street level to its roof. To further bolster Greenway’s green appeal, some of the harvested wind energy powers electric car charging stations inside.

Literally translating to ‘sea firefly’, the man-made Umi-hotaru island is a tourist attraction in its own right with many drivers heading there simply to admire the views. In addition to serving as a floating car park for the city’s aqua-line motorway, the island also boasts cafes, shops and public art.




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