Parking lots have become an important aspect of our day to day life. With the increase in the number of vehicles the parking lots are also increasing. After all if you own a car you definitely need a space to park it. It’s not just an urban issue, but a suburban one too. In USA, it is estimated that about one third of the surface area of major cities is taken up by parking lots. If calculated, there are 255 million registered passenger cars. On an average for every car, three non residential parking spaces exist making it almost 800 million parking spaces.
Detailing the role, questioning the common form and suggesting ways to improve parking lots Eran Ben Joseph, a professor of landscape architecture and urban design at MIT has written a book named ‘Rethinking a Lot: The design and Culture of Parking’, which will be published by MIT press this month. The book is about the need to redesign the parking lots. According to Ben Joseph, we have so many parking lots, but the fact is that they are neither good nor environment friendly. In fact, multiple environmental problems have been created by them. For example, more heat is created by asphalt resulting in faster water runoff, which decreases the chances of plants to extract pollutants from water, the parking lots build on ground level though cheap but have a huge carbon footprint etc.
Moving on from problems Ben Joseph has also recommended few ideas that he regards as a healthy move to plan green parking lots and improve them according to their surroundings or setting rather than the prescriptive ideas for their designing. Taking an example of parking lot of Fiats Lingotto factory in Turin, the simplest way suggested by him is to plant trees. Another way is that just like Miami’s Sun Life Stadium, low use parking lots can be paved in grass rather than asphalt. Green technology can also be used like Walmart parking lot in Worcester, which generates electricity for the store using 12 wind turbines installed in parking lot or solar panels can be build into lattice structure like Sierra Nevada Brewery parking lot in Chico, California.
But, the fact is that parking lots will not disappear and Joseph’s intention is not to abolish or set strict standard and codes. In fact, he just wants to show the future potential and the special effects on our life of the parking lots.