The results are in for the Think Outside the Box design competition sponsored by Designboom and Nissan. I find the typical parking lot to be the most unimaginative use of land and almost a complete waste of space and materials. Sure it’s a necessity for parking your car when you visit the local strip mall, but the potential for providing anything else worthy is completely untapped. It’s a microcosm of the gladiatorial relationship between people and automobile.
The top three entries probably best personify the theme to most of the designs – a parking structure that goes beyond our current acceptance of what a parking lot should be, a more typical parking lot that provides a secondary use for the land (i.e. produce energy), and a structure that uses the parking area to define public space with its mass and its facade (in this case a series of giant LED screens). I personally enjoy the ferris wheel parking structure because it leans more towards a built environment that resembles a structure (by its appearance and its use) from a Dr. Seuss story. (I’ve been reading a lot of Dr. Seuss to my son lately, so those illustrations are beginning to look like a more appealing reality than the typical beige suburban development I travel through.) But the ferris wheel parking structure also is along the same theme I have for a proposed mass transit system that resembles a roller coaster. (Also a Dr. Seuss induced construct, but seriously, who wouldn’t want to ride a ten-mile long roller coaster to work every morning? Imagine a world where people get to work laughing and high-fiving each other.)
Of course most of these entries are absurd, but they’re supposed to be – it’s an architectural competition. You can’t expect to get a good idea by just staring at the problem and repeating a solution that doesn’t work. There are enough proposed designs shown that I’m quite positive that you will see something that will make you utter “Wow, that’s actually a good idea.”
For a list of the entries check out www.designboom.com/contest/winner.php?contest_pk=29.