The new parking – underground and in lofty heights

Stacking them, taking the lift to the top, or lowering them underground: nowadays, there are some creative concepts around for parking cars in space-saving ways. It means not only can the pressures on our city centre streets be eased – but parking spaces can also fit harmoniously into the urban landscape.

The lack of parking – the singer Herbert Grönemeyer has commemorated his, and everyone’s, sense of despair in the lyric: “Ich drehe schon seit Stunden, hier so meine Runden...” (“Hours spent in town, driving round and round”) In Germany, car drivers spend 41 hours a year looking for a parking space. In cities like Cologne and Berlin, it can even be up to 62 hours.

When you recall that, according to the  Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA), a total of 2.9 million cars were registered here in 2020, it is high time for creative ideas for more parking space in our cities. More cars in the city doesn’t have to mean more surface area needed for parking. Because there definitely are options out there which don’t harm the cityscape and which make optimum use of existing space.

Going up?

Parking near to where you live is one of the biggest problems in cities. Nothing is more annoying than driving around the area where you live at walking pace, at the end of a long day at work – in the constant search for a gap between cars parked along the side of the road. How practical would it be simply to take the car upstairs with you and park it directly outside your kitchen window? That is made possible with the Carloft concept, designed by Berlin architect Manfred Dick. Simply drive up to where you live, radio for the car lift, drive in and park on the third floor, on your own balcony. If you drive an electric car, you’ll find a charging point up there. On old buildings or on new construction – the lift and parking space can be built on to either type of building. The first apartments where Dick’s Carloft was realized are located in Berlin-Kreuzberg – near Paul-Lincke-Ufer. Since it was not possible to build an underground garage on the site, due to problems with the groundwater situation, parking space needed to be created some other way. It was possible to retain the established trees in the courtyard, whereas constructing an underground garage would have required the ground to be sealed.

How Carloft works

The absolute high-end option for parking right outside your apartment, way up in the sky, is embodied in the Porsche Design Tower in Miami: spectacular ocean views, 200 metres tall, 60 floors – and two cars can be parked in each apartment. The car is simultaneously the key to the apartment. On the ground floor, the car drives into one of the three glazed lifts, before being transported up. Getting back in the car high up and starting the engine is a no-go. At height, the cars are therefore conveyed on a track system between the parking space and the lift, with no engine required. And floated back down again. Quietly. Luxuriously.

Cars become a part of the apartment. © Porsche

Car stacking

You already find plenty of examples of them in our cities: duplex garages, stack parking garages, double-parkers – various terms, all referring to parking spaces where two cars can be parked one above the other. The car is driven onto a controllable platform which is moved upwards – like the lifting platform in a car workshop. In many cases a tilting system is used, and the upper platform is angled forwards. That saves on space above it. To drive the car on the upper level out again, the platform has to be lowered. The lower level needs to be car-free during this maneouvre. The parking frame stands flush to the ground and can be retrofitted in existing garages, so long as the overall building height is adequate.

If this is your preferred parking solution, you need to bear in mind that some cars are too big for this option. SUVs often do not fit into current duplex garages. The German automobile association ADAC has researched the average maximum dimensions for a car that will fit into a stacking frame: a maximum of 1.50 metres high, two metres wide, five metres long and weighing no more than two tonnes. Shopping needs to be unloaded before parking, because the additional weight can cause the car to sit lower in the cradle. If unloaded after parking, the bodywork could then possibly strike against the garage roof. The same thing can happen if the car’s pneumatic suspension self-adjusts after parking.

A car six feet under

Duplex garages are also available as lowerable platforms. In these cases, the way the platforms are raised and lowered means that they always remain horizontal. This allows for both cars to be parked or brought out of the garage separately from one another. The requirement in this case is a pit which is between 1.50 and two metres deep.

In an underground garage, the car is lowered fully into the ground and thus effectively rendered invisible. The work of car thieves is made more difficult – they can’t get to the car in the first place. The upper surface of the parking area can be integrated harmoniously into the surroundings, using paving or a lawn. Or another vehicle can be parked on top of it. In this implementation, too, each parked car can be driven in and out at any time.

Since 2006, a unique automatic underground parking garage for residents has been located in - or rather under - Munich's Donnersbergerstrasse. Conveniently and safely, vehicles are parked in and out of one of the four glass transfer areas. When the vehicles disappear underground, they are stored fully automatically in the WÖHR Multiparker 740 on a total of 284 spaces. In the two separate systems, four lateral lifts and two stacker cranes each ensure efficient and fast storage processes.

With parking space boosted like this, more cars can fit into our city centres – while having less impact on traffic flows. It allows for a relaxed come-back to Herbert Grönemeyer’s lyric: “An jeder Ecke steh'n Politessen / Lauern wie Panther / Zum Sprung bereit / Hier kannst nicht parken …” (“Traffic wardens on every corner / Lurking like panthers / Ready to pounce / You can’t park here”): Yes I can. Pounce all you like!

(Stage photo: © Porsche)

The IAA MOBILITY is transforming itself from a pure car show to an international mobility platform with four pillars: the Summit, the Conference, the “Blue Lane” and the downtown Munich Open Space. Under the slogan of “What will move us next”, it stands for the digital and climate-neutral mobility of the future. From 7 to 12 September 2021, the car, bike and tech industries come together at IAA MOBILITY in Munich.