How Better Design Can Change the Environmental Impact of Parking


How Better Design Can Change the Environmental Impact of Parking

Parking garages are too often seen as simply a concrete structure to be given only the most basic design treatment and clad in whatever perforated metal is readily available. This traditional approach results in a lost opportunity for the clients and the parking garage users, and also the surrounding urban landscape and the wider environment. 

Without careful material consideration, parking garages can easily become utilitarian structures lacking any aesthetic value. Without careful environmental consideration, parking garages can increase the ‘Urban Heat Island Effect’ in cities across the world. Kaynemaile is rapidly changing how designers approach parking garage design with its seamless architectural mesh. The unique properties of Kaynemaile architectural mesh provide significant design freedom, and reduce heat transfer through solar gain and energy consumption for cooling and ventilation.

Opening up design freedom

Our patented manufacturing process means they can make seamless screens to any dimension – there is no ‘panel’ size like a traditional woven or perforated metal panel. 

The architectural mesh utilizes a series of interlocked rings made from engineering grade polycarbonate. The interlocked ring construction is similar in approach to ancient chainmail armour. The rings are joined together during the manufacturing stage to create an incredibly strong and durable mesh screen. 

Even when a screen is under tension the individual rings in a screen can still move and open up with an elastic-like quality. This allows it to be easily wrapped or rolled over three-dimensional geometric subframes, a design approach which traditionally could have only been achieved with rigid, folded metal panels. This solution provides designers the freedom to explore more interesting facade concepts for parking garages.

Kinetic Facades

The elastic, moving quality of the mesh has allowed us to develop a ‘kinetic’ facade system whereby the mesh is fixed at the top only and the bottom is unrestrained and free to move in the wind. In collaboration with the artist Ned Kahn, we have put this system in place on parking garages in Los Angeles and Columbus, Ohio, flipping the idea of parking garages as utilitarian structures and instead creating large-scale sculptural artworks.

The Los Angeles project at the Playa Vista complex features the mesh winding around the parking garage ramp, helping to connect the streetscape to the surrounding buildings. The dynamic installation takes advantage of the wind to keep the ribbons of the mesh moving, creating a lively counterpoint to the functional nature of the parking structure.

The Columbus, Ohio parking garage project, named ‘Silver Lining’, saw the kinetic properties of Kaynemaile pushed further on a difficult site between a convention center and a freeway off-ramp. Using just three long pieces of polycarbonate mesh turned the typically overlooked rear end of the complex into a functional facade artwork. This striking parking garage facade has created a welcoming arrival signal at the city’s outer edge.

The color, shape, and movement possibilities offered by our architectural mesh are key factors for pushing the envelope in the design of parking garages facades. The kinetic facade at the parking garage for the Pacific Fair shopping center on Australia’s Gold Coast draws inspiration from the waves and golden sand of the nearby Pacific Ocean. The three-dimensional facade was designed as a series of vertical strips spanning full height without the need for additional sub-frame. The projecting sections form a large projecting wave pattern across the face. 

Incorporating two layers of different colored mesh into the façade gives a new look from day to night. During the day the sun sparkles off the champagne-colored front screens, and at night a translucent marine blue-colored screen is activated by well-placed architectural lighting to create a rippling wave effect.

Kaynemaile’s most ambitious parking garage project to date highlights all the inherent properties of the material in stunning fashion. The concept for this large-scale building in Adelaide Australia was based on an old leather couch and required the outer mesh skin to be pulled in with architectural ‘buttons’ to replicate the upholstery look. The large seamless screens, the biggest being 188 feet tall by 56 feet wide, are strong enough to be pulled in to allow the depth and shadow around the steel buttons to read at street level. 

Incredibly, the large screens were each lifted and fixed off in a single day using an attachment system designed between Kaynemaile, the project architects and the installers.

The WonderCool Effect

The urban heat island effect, caused by the over-reliance on heat-absorbing construction materials, means that cities are often 1.8–5.4°F (1–3°C) warmer than their rural surroundings. This puts significant pressure on cooling systems, thereby increasing electricity consumption. The effect is further amplified by the use of fully-glazed facades, where direct sunlight causes overheating. In hot and humid cities, almost half of the electricity used by high-rise office buildings goes towards cooling.

The mesh facade system provides a cost-effective method to significantly improve the thermal environment inside a building by reducing radiant heat transfer from direct sunlight. Its unique design lets daylight in, but allows building operators to manage the passive solar gain within the building envelope.

Our mesh facade system has been shown to deflect up to 70 percent of visible and infrared light waves, which are linked to overheating. The Kaynemaile shading system provides an alternative route to solar gain protection. In diverse environments, Kaynemaile mesh has been shown to be even more effective at managing interior temperatures than costly retrofitted glazing.

Steel mesh products are highly thermally conductive, so under direct sunlight, their temperature rises and they transfer radiant heat into the building. In contrast, Kaynemaile mesh is made from a high-grade polycarbonate, which is an insulator and remains at a near ambient temperature, even at the height of summer, moderating the building’s thermal environment and reducing running costs.

Kaynemaile’s unlimited design potential paired with exceptional performance make it the ideal choice for parking garage exteriors. Rather than dreary business as usual, Kaynemaile offers degrees of design excitement with its WonderCool effect.

Aaron Te One, is the General Manager of Kaynemaile Architectural. He can be reached at

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Aaron Te One
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