2006 Skyscraper Competition
Marco Vermeulen, Theo Hauben
Although it is impossible to imagine contemporary life without car-based mobility, the car is frequently barred from the public space. In European inner cities, where pedestrians rule, the car is viewed as a threat to the city. This is rather strange because, in general, we spend a lot of money on cars and many car owners derive their social status from their possession, to a greater or lesser degree. In addition, sooner or later, most pedestrians become car users forced to descend into dark parking basements. Multi-storey parking facilities are an answer to the ever-growing demand for parking space, particularly where the concentration of activities requires the well-conceived use of space available.
The design is a 100 meter-high tower, with a capacity for approximately 450 cars, with an entry and exit station at the base of the building. This station has been designed with the users, both motorists and pedestrians, in mind. Spacious platforms for getting in and out and comfortable waiting rooms characterize the design.
The entry, transfer, and garaging of vehicles is automated and takes place behind the station. The horizontal transfer is carried out by a traverse robot, whereas the vehicles are transported vertically in the tower by six car lifts. By uncoupling the cycle of getting in and loading the car, transporting it and parking it and the reverse process, a high rate of arrivals and departures is achievable. In principle, nobody is allowed behind the platforms and this has many advantages regarding efficient space usage. This separation is also advantageous in terms of safety and security for both motorists and their cars. The tower is flanked by a fire-escape stairwell for technical maintenance purposes.
The limited space in the Delta metropolises (Rotterdam, The Hague, Amsterdam, and Utrecht) require compact parking facilities. The high groundwater level in this urban agglomeration makes underground construction highly expensive. The parking tower with its minimal footprint is the ideal solution. However, the parking tower is more than an efficient parking facility. The parking of cars on the skyline in quick tempo is a visible spectacle. The appearance of the tower changes constantly throughout the day depending on the number of cars parked. Whereas a full tower creates a colorful palette, at less busy times it will gain in transparency. With this visual spectacle, the facility evolves into an attraction and the city acquires an icon.