5 better things you can do with a parking space

Image: Park(ing) day

As cities become more and more crowded, the value we place upon small pockets of space is increasing. In suburban sprawl, banks of parking spaces may seem innocuous enough, but in city centres they're beginning to look positively offensive: in the UK, a standard spot is around 3 by 5 metres. The average size of newly built one-bedroom homes in the UK currently stands at just 46m2. You do the maths. 

Add to that the fact that a growing number of cities around the world are aiming to go car-free in the coming decades, and the huge areas given over to parking spaces look increasingly pointless. Here's a few suggestions for how to re-use them. 

1. Parklets

Full disclosure: we hate the word "parklet". But we do like the idea that a standard road-sized parking spot can become a mini-park, complete with seating and plants.

Here's one from San Francisco:

Image: Freewheel parklet.

2. An awful lot of bike parking

The space used by one car at rest can hold ten or more bikes – a point these racks, from company Cyclehoop, make abundantly clear:

Image: Cyclehoop

3. A tiny house

We have lots of parking spaces, but not so much housing. So a company in America has designed fully equipped, tiny houses called SCAPpads that fit inside a single parking spaces: 

Image: SCADpad.

They're intended for use inside parking garages, and if you're really lucky you can use the space next door as a garden. 

Another, somewhat easier, option: a caravan.

4. Golf

This mini golf course was created as part of Park(ing) day, held every September, when people around the world are encouraged to transform parking spots into parks.

5. Camping

Who needs a forest when you can drive everyone insane with your bongos, guitar and campfire right outside your own front door? 

Image: Solutions Twin Cities via Flickr.


So next time someone lectures you about city centre parking minimums, stay strong: that could be your holiday spot/house/golf club they're talking about. Tell them to take the bus. 


17 things the proposed “Tulip” skyscraper that London mayor Sadiq Khan just scrapped definitely resembled

Artist's impression. See if you can guess which one The Tulip is. Image: Foster + Partners.

Sadiq Khan has scrapped plans to build a massive glass thing in the City of London, on the grounds it would knacker London’s skyline. The “Tulip” would have been a narrow, 300m skyscraper, designed by Norman Foster’s Foster & Partners, with a viewing platform at the top. Following the mayor’s intervention, it now won’t be anything of the sort.

This may be no bad thing. For one thing, a lot of very important and clever people have been noisily unconvinced by the design. Take this statement from Duncan Wilson, the chief executive of Historic England, from earlier this year: “This building, a lift shaft with a bulge on top, would damage the very thing its developers claim they will deliver – tourism and views of London’s extraordinary heritage.”

More to the point, the design was just bloody silly. Here are some other things that, if it had been built, the Tulip would definitely have looked like.

1. A matchstick.

2. A drumstick.

3. A cotton ear bud.

4. A mystical staff, of the sort that might be wielded by Gandalf the Grey.

5. A giant spring onion.

6. A can of deodorant, from one of the brands whose cans are seemingly deliberately designed in such a way so as to remind male shoppers of the fact that they have a penis.

7. A device for unblocking a drain.

8. One of those lights that’s meant to resemble a candle.

9. A swab stick, of the sort sometimes used at sexual health clinics, in close proximity to somebody’s penis.

10.  A nearly finished lollipop.

11. Something a child would make from a pipe cleaner in art class, which you then have to pretend to be impressed by and keep on show for the next six months.

12. An arcology, of the sort seen in classic video game SimCity 2000.

13. Something you would order online and then pray will arrive in unmarked packaging.

14. The part of the male anatomy that the thing you are ordering online is meant to be a more impressive replica of.

15. A building that appears on the London skyline in the Star Trek franchise, in an attempt to communicate that we are looking at the FUTURE.

14a. Sorry, the one before last was a bit vague. What I actually meant was: a penis.

16. A long thin tube with a confusing bulbous bit on the end.

17. A stamen. Which, for avoidance of doubt, is a plant’s penis.

One thing it definitely does not resemble:

A sodding tulip.

Anyway, it’s bad, and it’s good the mayor has blocked it.

That’s it, that’s the take.

(Thanks to Anoosh Chakelian, Jasper Jackson, Patrick Maguire for helping me get to 17.)

Jonn Elledge is editor of CityMetric and the assistant editor of the New Statesman. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.

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