Just What We Needed Dept.: A Drive-Thru Car Museum

car museum exterior photo

Sigh. While we write about a world after cars, where people live in walkable cities, Francesco Gatti is building a drive-thru museum in Nanjing, China. The whole thing is a cross between some complicated origami and a parking garage; one drives through exibits to the parking on the roof, then gets out of the car and looks at exhibits in the cube in the middle that takes up a small proportion of the building area. Of course it ramps down, so effort expended is minimal.Susanne Labarre of Fast Company wonders why "What would seem gratuitous and gross anywhere else just kind of makes sense in go-go capitalist China, right?"

car museum car view photo

she also notes:

With glass every which way, everyone and everything is self-consciously on display: the motorists, the pedestrians, and, oh yeah, the cars. It's like a Saturday night on Sunset Boulevard.

The idea's decent enough. Car culture has never been about beautiful machines alone, freighted, as it is, with social meaning. So to mount a cinematic celebration of its voyeuristic aspects and the conspicuous consumerism of it all is kind of clever (if maybe unintentional).

car museum diagram

So how do you get back up to your car? Labarre quotes the architect:

"In the China of opposites, those who have the economic means to possess a car also have the means to have a personal chauffeur," Gatti says. Put another way: Better call your driver. (For mere mortals, there's also an elevator.) Great, so the museum will promote bad driving, smog, and smug rich people. It very well may be the most fitting tribute to cars ever made.

I can't come to a better conclusion than that.

More in the Just What We Needed Dept.:
Just What We Needed Dept : The EZCracker
Just What We Needed Dept.: Seven Things You Don't Want for Christmas
Just What We Needed Dept .: Tourist Lanes
From the Just What We Needed Dept: A Credit Card Holder with Button-Activated Card Selection
Just What We Needed Dept.: The Motorized Ice Cream Cone
Just What We Needed Dept : Disney Branded Eggs.

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