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Parking Spaces That Convert To Housing: Crazy Or Crazy Smart?

Would you live in a modified parking garage?

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Sharing an already tight apartment with a roommate is a common reality for many urban dwellers. But what if your roommate was a car, and when it was home you couldn’t be? Parking + Housing is San Francisco-based designer Aaron Cheng’s submission to this year’s James Dyson Awards. The brief was to create something that solves a problem—Cheng envisioned a building that doubles as both residence and garage at alternating times, making use of space that’s often left empty for half of the day.

When suburbanites make their way to town, the structure functions as a dedicated parking lot. Once the cars have left, inflating the connecting EFTE membrane converts the space into a super compact studio which is divided into two sections: a fixed unit with plumbing—bathroom and kitchen—and storage, and bedroom that expands and compresses with the help of pneumatics. "The project is designed for single young people, like those who just graduated from school," Cheng says. "Normally they have regular work schedules and social lives, and the home to them is merely a place for sleeping; what they care is good location to the downtown area and relatively cheap rent." Indeed, a no-frills approach to life would be a necessity for residents, as even some of the more standard amenities would have to be pared down or abandoned completely—nearly all furniture and possessions would all have to fit in the fixed unit. "As for the bed, they can use an air mattress or simply sleep on the floor," he says. Coordinating with compatible commuters might also be a challenge. What if they had to stay late at work one day? Or you forgot something at home after they’d arrived?

In Cheng’s plan, additional machinery would also be required to allow upper-level vehicles to leave before the ones below, which would bump up the budget a bit. He sites Eden Project and the Beijing National Aquatics Center (aka Water Cube) as technological predecessors, but in a way, his whole concept is like the bizarro space-saving second-cousin of the En-Suite Car Garage in New York’s tony 200 Eleventh Avenue building. There, each apartment has additional square-footage to store their ride, which is delivered to the door in a custom elevator—definitely catering to an entirely different kind of clientele.

Got an idea you want to share with the world? Entries for the James Dyson Awards close August 2nd.

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