Multi-storey car parks for public use: new urban needs
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, with the widespread use of the car, the need has been felt to solve the problem of parking vehicles. To this end, the design saw the emergence of a new branch, specialized in providing concrete answers to this difficulty. The actual introduction of the category corresponds to the early 1900s, when France distinguished itself for the construction of the first above-ground multi-storey car park. In close relationship with the American garages, the Perret brothers designed a multi-storey car park in Paris, contained within an urban liberty-style building. This refunctionalization opened up a wealth of examples that affected the years preceding the Second World War, a period in which the engine was still contained and for this reason, structures designed specifically for the stall of cars were not conceived. The solution to use this function, part of the existing buildings that are suitable for this purpose, is still widespread today, specifically within urban contexts, in historic areas, where the space available is small and the retrofit of existing buildings prevails over construction from scratch.
Contrary to historical centers and small urban nuclei, within the large cities, in the more peripheral areas, there are structures designed specifically to accommodate parked cars. These are buildings developed on several floors that sometimes stand out in the urban landscape for their particular aesthetic features, sometimes they are camouflaged through the use of neutralizing solutions. The latter can be represented by vegetational or decorative elements that hide the underlying structure, very modern and aesthetically impacting. Throughout history, however, these features have been highlighted in American cities, where the architectural culture of the verticality and use of glass and metal, have opened the scenario to multi-storey car parks developed in height. These are structures necessary from a functional point of view, inserted in a reality in which the car is considered indispensable for the daily life of the citizen. It is in this way that the building - parking becomes an integral element of the urban landscape. The typical vertical development of multi-storey systems involves the overlapping of horizontal and inclined surfaces, suitable for housing the cars. Each floor is connected by special ramps which are distinguished by distribution and direction of travel.
In conclusion, it is necessary to keep in mind that each structure is aimed at meeting the needs of a well-defined user but it is essential to always keep in mind the characteristics of the context in which it is located.
Guidelines for correct planning
In order to ensure the success of the multi-storey car park, certain principles must be observed. The first consists in identifying the driveways on the surface and how they can be accessed
be achieved taking into account the expected traffic flows. In addition, it is good that at the entrance of each car park, the peculiarities that the cars must have to be able to enter them are indicated (max h, weight), so as to avoid accidents when passing cars with different characteristics. The second element of great importance is represented by the connecting ramps between the various floors. These components can have a rectilinear or curvilinear trend, depending on the physical and structural conformation of the parking spaces. The third analysis concerns the safety and accessibility that must be ensured for users, through the insertion of dimensioned stairwells, visible emergency exits and efficient fire prevention systems. All these components are considered individually and designed appropriately and in accordance with current legislation, in order to guarantee a complete and safe whole.
In order to be considered functional, a multi-storey car park must ensure:
- maximization of space
- compositional and overall rationality
- quality of parking spaces
- functionality and visibility of driveways
- safety of pedestrian paths within the parking area
The design of these parking areas must be conducted in order to make informed choices that optimize their functionality. In fact, several studies have shown how cars remain in a stall position for most of the day and consequently the spaces used to accommodate them must be considered an integral part of urban mobility.
Types of multi-storey car park
The multi-storey structures designed to accommodate stalled cars vary according to specific needs, in terms of number of seats, dimensions to be respected and constraints linked to the area of interest.
The first distinction that can be made for this type of parking concerns the development of the same: on the surface or under the walking surface.
MULTI-STOREY PARKING ABOVE GROUND
It represents the typology with the greatest impact on the urban context in which it is located and for this reason the design process must pay particular attention to its correct insertion. Starting from the characteristics of the place, it is necessary to consider the road morphology and the needs of the area in terms of the number of parking spaces dependent on the possible presence of attracting poles and places of interchange with the subway, buses or trains. The new structure will have to respect the relevant distances with respect to the existing artifacts, without compromising the consistency of natural elements and assets to be preserved. For this purpose, the Italian and European scenario prefers artifacts that are mitigated by inserting green elements such as hedges and creepers or decorative panels, provided that there are no aesthetic constraints and the budget allows it.
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