We go on about how the car is playing less and less of a role in peoples' lives, yet for some, the opposite seems to be true. One indicator is the increasing popularity of the car elevator, shown previously on TreeHugger in New York and Singapore. Now it comes to Miami Beach, courtesy of Porsche Design and the Sieger Suarez Architectural Partnership. in this building the car is front and center, the main attraction.
There is a perverse logic to using a car elevator, particularly in Miami where you can't easily build an underground garage. It eliminates all the ramps and circulation that can take up almost as much area as the parking, and gets rid of the street-destroying parking garages that are so high that the new buildings don't even start until after the old buildings end.
Technically, it is actually pretty impressive.
Upon being scanned at ground level, drive your vehicle onto a 'turntable' and turn off the engine. The turntable aligns the vehicle with a car lift and as the lift opens, a robotic arm pulls the vehicle into one of three glass car lifts. Enjoy your quick, exhilarating ride home.
I suppose people cannot be trusted to drive into the lift here, so there is a very complicated mechanism that slides under the car, lifts it up a few inches, is pushed into the lift and then out again when it reached the apartment. It looks like a bumpy ride.
And I suppose there are real benefits to not having to ever being seen in public if you are of a certain class or career.
The utmost level of privacy is afforded. You are in control. Your vehicle is self-accessible, allowing you the freedom of entry and departure without notice. A level of privacy never afforded before.
And some people do really love their cars. When I practiced as an architect I had to put underfloor radiant heating into a garage for my elegant Italian client's Ferrari because Aldo said "a car is like a woman, you have to keep her warm!"
The Porsche Design Tower team agrees that the development of the automobile is an example of art meeting function. We anticipate that our buyers will feel the same way. And to that end, nowhere in the world does art meet function in the same way. In most units, a glass window between the living quarters and the sky garage allows residents to enjoy viewing their vehicles from the comfort of their homes.
I think we are going to be seeing a lot more of this, and in the end, it is really problematic. We have seen what happens in the suburbs, where people drive into their garages and go straight into their houses; there is no street life, no sense of community. Now we can have a city where people never have to go outside and interact with anyone at all. Where the cars' domination of our urban environment goes vertical as well as horizontal, as buildings bulk up, filling their middles with Porsches.
But then I remember those photos of Superstorm Sandy, the underground garages full of drowned porsches. At least when Miami is under water, these cars will be high and dry.