Why are parking lots so uniformly awful? Plant Architects questioned the usual surface lot-"typically bereft of aesthetic qualities — they just do their job and try not to get noticed. Sadly, they are also usually grey gaps in the neighbourhoods they sit in."
Their interventions include trees, of course, to provide spatial definition and temper the heat island effect; solar powered lighting, an irrigation channel located over a storm water retention system and permeable paving. Alternative vehicles would get optimized spaces under the shade of the trees.
A few spaces would be lost, but why do we permit ugly black holes in our urban fabric just to park cars?
The interventions include:
Green Walls — The decrepit chain link fences and highway guard rails will be replaced by "green walls" that will both enclose the lots and act as a buffer between the lots and their neighbours. In locations adjacent to commercial properties these walls can change profile and alignment to screen garbage areas or make enclosures for outdoor patios. The walls will consist of an internal framework that will support a wide variety of planting (geared to the orientation and light conditions) providing varying levels of transparency to ensure privacy for neighbours while allowing visibility for security.
Trees — Trees will be planted as part of the central (more diaphanous) Green Walls, providing shade and oxygen, and helping to create a sense of this being a contained space in the city. The tress would be set in larger planted areas, making smaller parking space on either side, which would be reserved for Smart Cars, and other altenative transportation.
Planting areas — New planted areas, containing low-maintenance native plants (e.g. grasses) will anchor the parking lines, potentially with new seating where space allows. These would be tied to the Pay-and-Display units as well.
Storm Water — The storm water from the site will be collected and held in linear drainage troughs that run down the centre of the lot. These will run towards holding pits at the ends of the lots, holding the water for use in irrigating the plants on the site. It should easily be possible to disconnect the lots from the storm sewer system, greatly reducing the load on an already overburdened system.
New Paving — The paved surfaces would be redone using porous asphalt with embedded aggregates to increase wear and reflectivity, both improving the aesthetic quality of the surface and reducing the heat retention of the asphalt, while tying into the stormwater management system.
Lighting — The site lighting would also be taken off-grid, with new light standards that are solar powered, and with full-cutoff heads, reducing uplighting and making a more intimate space on the ground.
Traffic Calming / Street Furniture — In locations where there are one-way streets that require traffic direction measures, new sculptural planting areas would be provided that house the traffic signage while adding something more to the street than another dead, dirt-filled precast concrete box. ::Plant Architects