Parking as a Creative Challenge: Arenas for Cars and More

By Anna Thurmayr.

Published by The International Journal of the Constructed Environment

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Parking lots are incorporated into the essential infrastructure in many building projects. An infrastructure is typically, almost by its very nature, functional; thus, the development of parking lots follows rational and economic principles. However, parking spaces are more than just places to store vehicles, they are also spaces that facilitate arrival and departure—they bid welcome and farewell. Designed as an attractive entrance or reception area, parking lots can serve as a link between buildings and the adjacent landscape or urban setting. Groundbreaking case studies, which were designed by landscape architects rather than engineers, show that aesthetic interests and functional requirements are not a contradiction in terms. The discussion of sustainability also incorporates ecological thinking into these types of infrastructure projects. Alternative solutions that provide the benefits of water management, vegetation, shade pattern, or the reuse of materials are well known in Europe. Alternative construction methods, which can be applied in northern climates, have been tested at the University of Manitoba since 2010. Contrary to the dominant methods of surface consolidation (asphalt, concrete), alternative techniques, which allow infiltration of precipitation, are also being explored. Consequently, this design approach contributes to passive flood prevention, reduces pressure on stormwater sewers, and minimizes the enrichment of groundwater. The mostly green appearance of alternative surfaces is also a visual statement that will raise environmental awareness of this innovative approach. Based on comprehensive research, the goal of the research project is to develop successful construction methods and to market alternative ways to construct arenas for parking and more. The integration of experiential, ecological, and functional aspects of parking one’s vehicle converts an everyday space into an ecological and aesthetic adventure. Well-designed parking spaces will entangle individuals into an ecological narrative, which could end up being as exciting as a love story.

Keywords: Parking Lots-design and Construction, Experiential, Ecological and Functional Aspects of Parking, Alternative Surface Consolidation in Northern Climates, Parking and More

The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp.81-92. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 14.181MB).

Prof. Anna Thurmayr

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Architecture, Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada

Anna (TU Munich) began her professional career in green roof design 17 years ago and has since acted as design and project manager on several high profile projects. She is a principal partner of Straub Thurmayr Landscape Architects and Urban Designers and is currently teaching in Landscape Architecture at the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg. Her research interests, derived from the wide range of projects she has undertaken, are ‘the visual language of landscape architecture’ and ‘Roofgardens’. Funded by LACF Grants 2010 and 2011 she is currently testing economical and ecological construction methods in the cold prairie climate of Winnipeg. Anna is a Full Member of both the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA/MALA) and the Bavarian Chamber of Architects in Germany.