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

Would you live in a modified parking garage?

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.

Add New Comment


  • Pandoras9of9

    Yet another poorly researched design. It has so many requirements for it to work; like keeping a completely clutter free living room/bed room/ dining room. Also, who is going to move said furnishings EVERY DAY? Perhaps the standard of living is just really, really low in Shanghai. But if it is, why buy a car before you have a proper home? It may work if the people rent their homes during the day as parking. But you have to consider the insulation value of the collapsible walls, the extreme cost of lifting cars... It's just not worth a detailed critique. Hell, the person getting paid to write about it didn't even bother... I guess it's just another "quota" article.

  • Torryster

    True. This is a design from designer's mind directly. That's why it lacks of an important thing called "empathy". This 1+1=2 idea needs some human-centered thinking.  

  • MikeJones

    Very interesting concept and well executed. but I hope none of the vehicles
    belong to the tenants else the true meaning of "sleeping in your car."

  • Bernard Tai

    This concept assumes we are robots who must conform to a fixed schedule. 

    Democracy thrives on diversity and this is not the most ideal way of creating effeciency. There are plenty of other ways to make use of the space when space ius not used - e.g. what about popup hotels for empty carparks or in the case of empty residence during the day, pop up offices or businesses?

  • iceman

    What happens if you need to stay home one day? And where do you park your car at night? Interesting concept, but not very plausible...

  • Scout651

    Interesting concept and well executed, but I hope none of the vehicles belong to the tenants, else, the true meaning of "sleeping in your car."