The word ‘cool’ is rarely the first thing that springs to a motorist’s mind when negotiating the entrance to a multi-storey car park.
The usually grey, soul-less buildings are not generally regarded as epitomes of architectural elegance or groundbreaking examples of modern design.
But a competition to find the world’s coolest car parks has uncovered dozens of stunning examples and now two British, as well as several U.S., institutions have made it into the top 10.
Birmingham’s Millennium Point, which glows blue at night and was designed by architects Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners, has made the top 10 of the world’s coolest car parks
An internal view of the futuristic Millennium Point car park in Birmingham. The cuboid structure cost £114 million, and glows in different colours at night
With its angular metallic exterior, the Charles Street car park in Sheffield, designed by architects Allies & Morrison, stands out against a backdrop of drab, grey office buildings, and has earned it the nickname ‘cheesegrater’
The Cheesegrater has already received a RIBA Yorkshire award for its eye-ctaching and unusual angular metal exterior
The ‘Cheesegrater’ a multi-storey car park on Charles Street, Sheffield and Birmingham’s Millennium Point have made the shortlist of the 2013 Coolest Car Parks in the World list.
The competition, run by FX magazine and the Stress Free Airport Parking website, has seen entries coming in from all corners of the world.
Among the standout examples is the Michigan Theatre car park in Detroit, where motorists can park in what was the auditorium. An Italian Renaissance-style masterpiece, it was built on the site of Henry Ford’s first workshop and was saved from demolition after it was abandoned in the 1970s.
Meanwhile, the stunning Parc des Celestins car park in Lyon, France, is situated beneath an historical square where a Knights Templar command post once stood. It was built in 1994-1995 and opened to critical acclaim. A refracting telescope at ground level offers a kaleidoscope view.
The Michigan Theatre car park in Detroit, where motorists park in what was the auditorium, is an Italian Renaissance-style masterpiece. The theatre, built on the site of Henry Ford’s first workshop, opened in 1926 and was mercifully saved from demolition after it was abandoned in the 1970s
A view of the stunning ornate roof in Detroit’s Michigan Theatre car park. Which featured in the film ’8 Mile’
The city of Miami can boast two entrants in the top 10 – the Ballet Valet Parking Garage which uses greenery to soften the concrete structure and 1111 Lincoln Road which is often described as resembling a house of cards.
Sheffield’s ‘Cheesegrater was designed by architects Allies & Morrison and opened in 2008. It has already received a RIBA Yorkshire award for its angular metal exterior.
Millennium Point was officially opened by the Queen in 2002, but had been in use since the previous year. The cuboid structure, which was designed by Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners and cost £114 million, glows in different colours at night and features a cylindrical annex which contains a cinema.
Jamie Mitchell, assistant editor of FX magazine, told the Independent: ‘Many people think of car parks as functional concrete blocks or as something so dull and utilitarian that they need to be hidden underground.
‘In fact, some of the world’s greatest architects, from Zaha Hadid to Herzog and de Meuron, have designed them. I haven’t been surprised by the high standard of design evident in the contenders for this competition but I have been impressed.’
The Eureka Tower Car Park in Melbourne, Australia, features cleverly-painted lettering that jumps out of its surroundings. The buidling was designed by Axel Peemoeller
Standout design: The exterior of the Eureka Tower in Melbourne, Australia
The stunning Parc des Celestins car park in Lyon, France, is situated beneath an historical square where a the Knights Templar command post once stood. It was built in 1994-1995 and opened to critical acclaim. A refracting telescope at ground level offers a kaleidoscope view of the car park
The Veranda Car Park in Rotterdam was commissioned to solve parking problems on the Veranda strip close to the Feyenoord stadium in Rotterdam. It was designed by Architectenbureau Paul de Ruiter
An external view of the Veranda Car Park in Rotterdam. It is organised around a void of nine levels, four underground and four above ground
Built in 1995, Miami’s Ballet Valet Parking Garage is a joint venture between the city and developer Tony Goldman. The complex was designed by Miami-based Arquitectonica,
A street-level view of the Ballet Valet Parking Garage in Miami which uses living vegetation to soften the concrete structure and blend in with the surrounding area
The Car Park Plaza in Cajnovas, Spain, by architect Teresa Sapey Estudio de Arquitectura, was intended to be a fun, clourful project designed with sustainability and functionality in mind. The low power neon lights reduce power consumption and were designed to complement the graphics and the visuals displayed on the walls which guide drivers around the car park with ease
Cordova Parkade in Vancouver, Canada, was constructed from a former department store, at a cost of $28 million. Designed by architect Henriquez Partners Architects, it incorporates pieces of old Vancouver bridges and was partly inspired by 19th-century train stations
Another Miami landmark, 1111 Lincoln Road has already won numerous design awards and was described by the designers as ‘the most radical work they had ever done’
1111 Lincoln Road, designed as a car park and multi-use space, is often described as resembling a house of cards, it offers panoramic views of the South Beach area
‘CarTowers’ in the ‘Autostadt’ theme park next to the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg, Germany, is a 48 metre high structure featuring fully automated robotic lifts which deliver an average of 600 vehicles per day
A night shot of ‘CarTowers’ in Wolfsburg, Germany. The stunning glass-encased steel construction, allows for a clear view of its interior