Could Vacant Parking Lots Offer An Alternative Urban Living Environment?

Melanie Luff for

The latest figures show that 54% of the global population (approx. 7.2 billion people) are living in the cities.The 2014 World Urbanization Prospects report by the United Nations predicts thatby the year 2050, it will further amass to 66% of a predicted 9.6 billon.

In a century of global urbanization more people are choosing to live in the cities than ever before, but they are coming across a recurring problem in the concrete jungle.

Although ‘Millennials’ (the 18-35 demographic) are desperate to head to the bright lights, a lack of affordable apartments is their greatest problem, and many young urbanites are now getting priced out of their own cities.

The overarching demand for metropolitan living, has increased with changing lifestyle choices, economic circumstances and housing shortages, and has left many young professionals seeking a more affordable option.

As a result, the micro apartment was born – a resourceful new trend in US real estate and a seemingly affordable solution.

Through optimizing use of space, and enabling buyers to live in prime locations (without breaking the bank), these ultra-small living spaces are appearing throughout the major cities and becoming a growing phenomenon.

Proving to be extremely popular in the US property market, the 2014 Los Angeles Dwell on Design conference even showcased a variety of homewares specifically tailored to small-scale living,

The rise in this compact style has seen an influx of repurposed buildings and spaces, from disused warehouses to abandoned shopping malls to the more unconventional option of a shipping container.

With ‘at least 105 million and maybe as many as 2 billion parking spaces in the United States’, in some cities they make up over a third of the metropolis, yet approximately 50% are underused.

Eran Ben-Joseph, a professor of urban planning at M.I.T and author of “Rethinking A Lot” sees parking lots as an overlooked, often ignored part of the modern urban landscape, with multipurpose potential and describing them as “ripe for transformation”, asking:

‘Can’t parking lots be aesthetically pleasing, environmentally and architecturally responsible? Used for something other than car storage?’

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