Dedicated parking spaces are always useful for city dwellers with cars; there’s nothing worse than coming home after a long day at work only to find that the nearest spot is 10 blocks away. But parking spaces take up, well, space. And for much of the day, they’re left unused. There’s one startup, Parkatmyhouse, that lets people rent out their empty spots. Designer Aaron Cheng has a more creative solution: a structure that looks like a normal parking garage during the day, but turns into a living space at night.
The Parking + Housing project, submitted to this year’s James Dyson Award, asks us to imagine a place where people don’t have many possessions and don’t mind losing access to their homes during the day.
Once evening hits (and presumably all the cars have exited), the parking garage inflates into small studio living spaces that are each divided into two parts: a fixed unit with storage, a bathroom, and a kitchen, and a separate bedroom that inflates and deflates using a pneumatic system. All furniture—and other furnishings—would have to be stuffed into the fixed area during the day.
Sure, there are holes in the design: Where do people park when they get home? And what happens if someone wants to stay home from work? This would only work for someone who needs a place to rest their head at night, and nothing more.
But consider this: Cities around the world are growing rapidly, and will only continue to balloon as the population grows. Already, urban centers are considering creative space-saving ideas. In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg recently launched a contest for developers who want to build a series of 275- to 300-square-foot apartments. Developers in San Francisco are working on similar ideas.
A part-time parking lot, part-time home may not be the logical next step. But it’s something to consider.