Parking garages are everywhere and nowhere at once. Utilitarian to the core, the structures are designed to blend in to their predominantly urban surroundings while serving an essential function: to house vehicles as efficiently as possible. Human considerations count only insofar as they further a greater efficiency of space utilization. In other words, it’s all about the cars.
Parking structures are built to be used, not aesthetically admired. As such, the spaces can elicit a sense of unease. Hundreds of narrow spots are delineated by hundreds of painted slots, arranged row upon row in rising banks of spaces and accessed by spiraling ramps that lead to levels exactly like the one below and above it. Few find the structure’s utilitarian form particularly exciting, unless you’re looking for a place to park in a hurry. Even fewer have attempted to reimagine the parking deck as part of an urban housing solution. Yet the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) has done just that with their innovative SCADpad project.
In a bit of adaptive reuse wizardry, the team behind SCADpad transformed a section of the school’s parking structure into an intriguing micro housing solution. Eight standard sized parking spaces were turned into three dwelling units with communal space and garden. As the SCAD team explains:
An interdisciplinary group of SCAD students, faculty, and alumni worked for 10 months to design and develop SCADpad – from its architectural footprint to custom furniture to remote home control – to fit in the mere 135-square-feet of a standard parking space.
An organic garden is fed by a greywater filtration and delivery system, while a composting and recycling center helps ensure there is minimal waste. A rapid prototyping area featuring a 3D printer lets residents customize their unit to their preferences and needs – a perfect way to maximize life in a micro house.
Perhaps the best way to get a sense of how beautifully the SCADpads integrate into an otherwise dreary parking deck is to take a look at the following video ‒ Episode 4 of SCAD’s BIG PLANS | SMALL SPACES series detailing the SCADpad project.
What it all comes down to is the maximization of minimal resources. Until such time as the world’s population begins to decrease, competition for resources and space will continue unabated. SCADpad points toward an interim future – where the tipping point between sustainability and collapse may be measured in terms of how many parking decks are turned into micro-housing or remain in use as they are today.
© 2014 – 2018, David Sprouse. All rights reserved.