Designing for parking to keep up with growth
In growing cities the need for sufficient parking hardly gets enough attention. We would have to adopt different norms when designing parking lots for residences, small or large apartment complexes, offices, commercial establishments, shopping complexes, a combination of shops and residences, hospitality sector, public spaces such as airports, stations and recreation zones, campuses and so on.
PHOTO: SAMPATH KUMAR
VALUABLE SPACE: Much care must be taken while designing a parking space.
Whether it be an individual house, a small or large apartment complex, a corporate business house, a multi-building campus or public facilities such as airports or stations, a lot of thought needs to go into the design of parking facilities.
Kerb side parking is also very important and an essential part of urban design. But in cities that grow and develop in gay abandon, the need for ensuring sufficient parking is the least of considerations.
The message going out is not to ignore parking facilities. Agreed that every square foot counts in terms of money and the demand for built up space is high but as any architect will tell you, lack of adequate parking space and turning radius is an ideal recipe for bad planning.
Parking lots whether in houses or office complexes have to be designed not just for the present but with an eye on the future. Parking can be variously categorised depending on the nature of activity of the premises. We would have to adopt different norms when designing parking lots for residences, small or large apartment complexes, offices, commercial establishments, shopping complexes, a combination of shops and residences, hospitality sector, public spaces such as airports, stations and recreation zones, campuses and so on.
We will begin by considering parking designs for residences and apartments. International norms for parking suggest that small and medium cars require about 200 sq ft, SUVs about 350 sq ft and heavy vehicles about 1000 sq ft.
The turning radius for various categories of vehicles is also stipulated ranging from about 30 ft to less than 500 ft for large trailer trucks. These figures may not make much sense to the common man whose primary need is to comfortably drive his vehicle in and out of a parking lot whether it be in his home, office or public spaces.
When looking at parking for residences or apartments, the one norm to be strictly followed is that the gate must never open onto the road.
When vehicles are jammed into small parking lots the gate will have to be opened outward to allow entry and exit and this is a major inconvenience.
Another point to note is that one must provide parking space for owned vehicles inside one's compound and not drive cars onto side walks or in front of your neighbour's house.
When designing the gate it is necessary to keep it to the normal size of about 8 ft. If the size of the gate cannot be widened to help easy turning it may be good idea to go in for a bell mouth at the entrance where a slightly inset gate will provide a wider entry point of about 11 ft to 13 ft.
We will first look at parking designs for medium and larger apartments and then move on to sample individual residences. Parking for apartments is either provided alongside the building and is uncovered, or takes the form of covered parking at basement or the ground floor levels. When looking at the parking lot of any apartment, the first thing one has to note is the approach from the road. It must neither be a steep climb or a sharp descent. If the parking is below or above road level it is safe to have a gradual slope approach.
If parking slots are between stilts one must make sure that the distance between the pillars is adequate to park and reverse a car without having to turn very sharply. When parking lots are provided alongside buildings, what owners' should insist upon is that there must be enough space for free movement of another vehicle along side a parked one. In other words there should be a minimum 10 ft wide space between the parking slot and the building to allow vehicles to move around. And the one rule that residents and associations must never compromise on is for more than one vehicle to be squeezed into a single parking slot even if it were just for the night.
The author is a Chennai-based Landscape Architect and Environmental Planner.
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