Turning Parking into Housing


Turning Parking into Housing

It’s all a matter of perspective. A vacant parking garage is a failed venture to some, and a structure of enormous potential to others. Architect Alfredo Brillembourg has an interesting plan for unused parking structures in Europe: turn them into housing. According to curbed.com, Brillembourg noticed under-used parking structures throughout his travels in Europe and surrounding areas. While the structures were under-used for their original purpose, they had found new life as restaurants, unofficial homeless shelters, and unfortunately, havens for drug use.

Brillembourg says that empty parking structures are already being converted for other uses – just not intentionally or intelligently. He says they could be purposefully reimagined and revised to function in ways that are more relevant. Parking is still relevant everywhere, but in some places, public transit has overtaken driving, and in others, parking is been more than adequately provided leaving some parking structures vacant. Brillembourg sees these buildings being transformed to spaces for refugees, the homeless and even modelled into low-cost public housing.

A parking garage is an open building, and Brillembourg and his team see specific advantages to that. Open buildings both adapt more readily to a user’s needs and encourage that user’s participation, which is particularly important when it comes to public housing.

Parking structures provide an eminently adaptable existing infrastructure. They are central and sturdy. Internal reconfiguration wouldn’t need to consider supporting walls, and a structure’s open sides would provide ventilation and natural light. They’re also modular: “You can rent a parking space, you can rent two or three. Depending on your expandability, you can expand and improve,” says Brillembourg.

Many won’t see a parking structure as the ideal home, but those with no other option might be more than grateful. In places like Dallas, where there is a known surplus of parking, this could be something to consider. There would ne many obstacles to a transformation of this type, especially in the United States, but regardless of actual feasibility, it’s fascinating to hear such an original idea.

Read the article here.

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John Van Horn

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