Carsharing and connected cars are the future of mobility – a future that’s already within reach. Look no further than the trusty but dull multi-story car park: Shaking off its dark and dire past as a non-descript, single-use box, it promises to become a hyper-modern all-purpose space. At least if architects, designers, and urban planners get their way. Introducing: four of the future’s best and brightest parking structures.

Micro homes in parking spots – Atlanta leads the way

Take 75 students enrolled at the Savannah College of Art and Design, ten months of work, a huge amount of wood – and you get a new micro community on the fourth level of an Atlanta car park. Say hello to SCADpad: three micro homes and a small community garden.

How can design change the world? This interdisciplinary project thinks it’s all about making the most of unused urban space. Put into practice, it translates to efficient, sustainable living with an impressively tiny footprint.

an unoccupied car park with a skyline view
Bare concrete is so yesterday. Parking structures are about to reinvent themselves.
Photo: courtesy of SCAD

A footprint found in a parking garage. According to a survey carried out by the SCADpad team, the US has approx. 105 million parking spots. That’s five spaces for each car – or urban space simply begging to be (re-)used as potential living space.

a car park reused as a community room
Inspiring idea space – community room of SCADpad participants.
Photo: courtesy of SCAD

Each of the project’s three micro homes has its own geographical design theme: Europe, Asia, and North America, referencing the international sister sites of the SCAD college. Yet all houses also have one thing in common: They are multi-functional to the core. Modular wall systems, intelligent home features, sustainable waste management, and 3-D furniture can all be adjusted to the residents’ requirements.

bright orange shower stall
Mesmerizing visuals inside the SCADpad “Europe” shower.
Photo: courtesy of SCAD

At the time of writing, the micro homes were still occupied by SCAD college students, happily serving as guinea pigs to test this progressive living concept. Yet if the minds behind SCADpad get to have their say, this fourth-level prototype in Atlanta will only be the start. Soon, such micro homes could be sited wherever they are welcome and needed – in every unused US parking spot.

a micro home with oriental interior
Get cozy inside SCADpad “Asia.”
Photo: courtesy of SCAD

“The MOD“ – tomorrow’s architecture, designed today

Most car parks are a huge waste of space. At least according to Andy Cohen, Co-CEO at US design and architecture office Gensler. Unfortunately, he adds, most decision-makers still think otherwise.

So, Cohen keeps travelling up and down the United States to talk to urban planners, authorities, and designers. Together, they want to prepare for the future. A future that turns all “waste of space” into places for work, play, and life.

To give us a more tangible idea and view of his vision, Andy Cohen has created an enticing example. “The MOD,” a fictional cultural center in L.A., is based on the bare frame of a disused car park. The light and airy construction with changeable walls and ceilings can easily house apartments, offices, or shop units. In other words: the opposite of wasted space.

The MOD: a light and airy construction with changeable walls
Flexible and modular: a vision for Los Angeles.
Photo: courtesy of Gensler

From parking garage to luxury object – welcome to the “Village”

Real estate specialists Cantor-Pecorella know how to dazzle: Their Cinderella-style transformation of a basic New York City parking structure is a real head-turner. Think spacious, loft-style rooms, automated private residential parking facilities, bespoke Italian interiors, fine marble bathrooms, even an in-house gym … once you’re inside this luxury townhouse, nothing will remind you of its humble origins. Sounds good?

Well, if you have the spare cash, one penthouse is still up for grabs. Covering three floors, it comes with four bathrooms, a terrace, and even a private elevator – all for a mere 19 million dollars …

Design lovers flocking to parking lots – everyday life in Miami Beach

If you stop at the 1111 Lincoln Road car park in Miami Beach, you don’t just drop off your car and leave – you’d be missing out. Give yourself a moment to enjoy the panoramic view, take a yoga class, check out the shops on the first floor – or party at the event space built into the seventh level.

empty car park with a view of Miami
Miami: parking with a view.
Photo: Hufton + Crow and MBEACH1, LLLP

Multifunctionality was the obvious guiding principle of the architects at Herzog & de Meuron. And their design works brilliantly: Athletes and gym bunnies use the stairs and ramps for their daily exercise routines, locals love the perfect sundown spot, and design lovers from around the world make the pilgrimage to see this marvel up close. So, if you ever find yourself in Florida, make sure to put this gem on your list but be warned – the entry fee is around 30 USD.

car park of the future: the 1111 Lincoln Road car park in Miami Beach
Lifestyle oasis with parking option.
Photo: Hufton + Crow and MBEACH1, LLLP