Let’s be honest, car parks aren't generally the most exciting places in the world. Built for function, the architect's approach is usually mundane practicality with little attention to aesthetics. However, in the ever pursuit of travel ingenuity, we were pretty impressed to uncover some architectural gems - unique car parks that really do justice to our cars.
10. Parc des Celestins - Lyon, France
We begin our countdown with Parc des Célestins, the underground car park below Place des Célestins, which houses the Opéra de Lyon in France. The car park is built in a cylindrical pattern, spanning seven storeys with a hollow middle that features a rotating mirror placed at an angle at the base. Sunshine from the street enters the hollow core, which helps disperse the light throughout the car park. Pedestrians walking on ground level have the best view, being able to look down the 'cylinder' through a periscope - although at first it can be quite confusing as to what you're seeing. Built underground, it's a perfect illustration of creativity and beauty.
Check out this video below of the rotating mirror.
Architect Artist: Daniel Buren
Main designer: Micheal Targe
Architect: Jean-Michel Wiltmotte
9. Eureka Tower - Melbourne, Australia
The Eureka Tower in Melbourne not only boasts being the tallest building in the city, but it has a car park with an award-winning design - how many car parks can claim that? Axel Peemoeller, a German-born designer, did a good job in turning a car park into its own unique feature. With graphics to create what looks like random abstract words, at certain points of a driver's journey the words begin to take shape and become informative signs. Forget about trying to find the tiny exit sign or driving round and round looking for an escape from the concrete walls around you, at Eureka car park you won't get lost as the instructions are plastered on the wall in bright colours - a memorable parking experience to say the least.
Architect: Fender Katsalidis
Graphic Designer: Axel Peemoeller
8. Kansas City Library - USA
The best possible thing a library can do is to illustrate how much fun reading is and the Kansas City Library does it oh so well - look no further than their quirky car park covered in 22 well known books. Affectionately nicknamed by the locals as the 'community bookshelf’, the car park's two staircases on either side act as bookends preventing the 25-feet tall books from falling over. Some may think it looks tacky, but we think the Kansas Library has managed to turn a dull car park into a fun feature.
Architect: CDFM2 Architects (Now 360 Architects)
7. The Cube - Birmingham, UK
The Cube in Birmingham is one of the most forward-thinking car parks. Fully automated, all you need to do is register your vehicle and drop it off in one of four transfer garages. Using advanced technology, the car is scanned and transported to an available parking bay by an automated lift and a conveyor system. Upon return drivers simply scan their pass, which has already been registered to their car - it's brought back and turned around for the driver to just get in and drive out. Drivers aren't allowed to just test out the system, you will need to register beforehand. Take a look at The Cube website for more information.
Architect: Ken Shuttleworth
Designed by: WOHR
6. Hamilton - Singapore
This one is for the rich and famous - in case you felt your Ferrari wasn’t safe in the underground parking of your building, do not fear because at the Hamilton in Singapore you can park your car next door to your apartment and keep an eye on it through a glass window. Simply drive your car into the parking lift, which is biometrically controlled, and place your thumb on the sensor, the car is then transported to the registered apartment. Each apartment comes as standard with two en suite garages except the penthouses, which have four.
5. Umihotaru car park - Japan
This one makes our top 10 list because it's a floating car park in the sea, need we say more. The literal translation of Umihotaru is sea-firefly. Umihotaru serves as a pitstop for the aqualine motorway, which connects Kawasaki to the city of Kisarazu and is the entrance to the underwater tunnel that runs 200 feet below Toyko Bay. Although in essence it's just a quick vehicle layover, it has a real tourist appeal with the island car park boasting amazing panoramic views of the city, restaurants and public art - so much more than just a car park.
4. Greenway Self Park - Chicago, USA
We love Greenway Self Car Park in Chicago because it's green and self-sustaining - and why not use all that wind in the Windy City for some good? Along the outer structure of the building are dozens of turbines. These harness the wind to power the external lighting and the energy generated even enables the car park to contribute some of its power back into the city grid. The outer wall is made from layered breathable glass, which makes the building a naturally ventilated space - another way in which the car park helps save energy. Other features of the building include a rain water cistern collection system, a place to charge your electric vehicles and a green roof - proving that even car parks can play their role in sustainable living.
3. Marina City - Chicago, USA
Marina City consists of two huge, corn-shaped towers. At 65 storeys high, they are a mix of residential and commercial spaces with the first 19 floors dedicated to parking. The exposed spiral car park is operated by a valet service and contains 996 parking bays per building. It was featured in the 1979 film The Hunter and more recently, in 2005 an American company used it as the location for an advertisement. Using a number of cameras from seven different angles, they drove two cars off the 17th floor of the building. This car park makes it onto our top 10 because parking your car in the Marina City Towers gets you the best views in the city.
Take a look at the advert below.
Architect: Bertrand Goldberg
2. 1111 Lincoln Road - Miami
1111 Lincoln Road is situated at the gateway to Lincoln Road pedestrian promenade in Miami. The designers of this car park saw the space as an urban area that would combine cars, retail and urban living for those who reside the city of Miami. Parts of the third and fifth floors are used for art installations, events, wedding parties and photo shoots. The simple act of parking your car there instantly seems fun. Lincoln uses smart design to make the most of the views over Miami - the levels differ in ceilings height and some have balconies and mezzanines that overlook others. Clear 'V' shaped pillars, soft lighting and simple signage are further additions that make this building so much more than just a car park.
Architect: Herzog and de Meuron
1. Michigan Theatre - Detroit, USA
If old-school charm is your thing then the Michigan Theatre is the perfect parking spot for you. Although run down, the remnants of the by-gone glamour days are still very present, making the Michigan Theatre car park one of the most beautiful. The theatre was built in 1926 and struggled to keep its doors open before its closure 50 years later - ironically due to its lack of parking. In order to retain the office tenants, adequate parking was needed. Because the theatre was integral to the office building structure, it could not be completely destroyed and instead was gutted and turned into a three-storey car park. But parts of the original theatre are still intact today: the ornate plaster ceiling, which is decaying and peeling off the walls, gives the car park a unique feature. Well deserving of a spot on our list for being one of the more interesting places to park your car.
Architects: Cornelius W. and George L. Rapp
Last Updated: November 2012