That we are in love with the motor car cannot be in dispute, in the UK alone, at the end of 2016, there were 31.7 million, in the USA the figure is 260 million registered on the road at the end of 2014, but when we drive them from our homes to our chosen destination, just where do we find car parks to leave them.
As car ownership increased over the past 30 years, governments and local authorities have tried a number of options to accommodate the increased use of the car as the use of public transport diminished. The first multi-storey car parks first began to appear at around this time, although the first recorded multi-storey car park in the UK, and probably the world, was introduced by The City & Suburban Electric Carriage Company at 6 Denman Street, central London, in May 1901.
At the time, the Denham Street car parking project was “state of the art” with 7 floors, accommodation for 100 cars, and had an electric elevator to move the vehicles between floors. The car parks of today are a far cry from this innovation of 116 years ago; the primary function of course, is to house the car whilst we go about our daily tasks of work or shopping.
Today’s car park does not have to look like the concrete icon featured in the film “Get Carter”; architecturally pleasing as well as efficient and functional are now considered requirements.
The 'Cheesegrater', Sheffield
The Charles Street, Sheffield, UK, example is a cool car park and is known with affection by the locals as “The Cheese Grater”, this not only is pleasing to the eye, it has accommodation for 530 cars, is close to the Railway Station, the shops and theatres.
The Ballet Valet Car Park, Miami
There are some authorities that consider that the modern car park has to be disguised as much as possible, this appears to be the case in Miami, where the car parking building is entirely covered in vegetation to soften its appearance and reduce its visual impact on the Lower South Beach area, with just the parade of shops and palm trees on display below.
The Eureka Tower, Melbourne
Not so much a car park, more of a multipurpose building, the Eureka Tower in Melbourne Australia demonstrates that with city centre space being at a premium, housing cars whilst on business, or shopping, does not have to be at the expense of first class living at the centre of the city. The tower consists of 91 floors with 84 floors of apartments; the first nine floors accommodate 814 cars, of which no doubt the residents of the 556 apartments will have prior claim.
The 'Sinking Ship' Seattle
You may think that when approaching the “Sinking Ship” car park in Seattle you should start to apply the brakes to your car as the road appears to fall away. It actually climbs and the cleverly designed car park with the slope of the decks in the opposite direction to the hill.
Michigan Theatre, Detroit
Perhaps Detroit in the early 20th century which was crowned the world's automotive capital could claim to have the coolest car park, it was after all, built in 1926 upon the site where Henry Ford built his first car, but not originally as a cark park, it was a theatre, the Michigan Theatre. Sadly the theatre closed in 1970, the reason, lack of parking space!
111 Lincoln Road, Miami
For many, finding a car park is the priority when going into the city, but others welcome the services that a car park can offer such as a shopping experience, living accommodation, perhaps a recreational area that can be used for multi-functional activities.
Take 1111 Lincoln Road in Miami as an example which offers parking, a fashion store on the fifth floor and a restaurant on the top, as well as a penthouse. The building is also used for weddings, film shoots, and it has to be said that this really is a building with artistic merit, designed as it was by architects Herzog and de Meuron, who were also responsible for iconic structures such as Tate Modern and the Beijing bird’s nest stadium, This car park suggests a petrified house of cards made with thin-edged concrete.
Naturally for most motorists, the first priority is to find a safe place to park our cars and when we are looking around to find car parking, perhaps the first thought will be, not how aesthetically pleasing it looks, does it remind me of a ship, a pack of cards, does offer a shopping experience. No, what we want to know is; does it have space and whether this is the 21st century 'CarTowers' in the 'Autostadt' theme park next to the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg, Germany, with automatic lifts slotting your car into an available space, which of course is a bit like the 1901 Denham Street, or perhaps the Greyfriars car park in Leicester where King Richard III remains were buried and found. Not “does it have room available to park my car”?
Find parking available in car parks across the UK at YourParkingSpace today.