15 of the World's Most Unusual Parking Garages

Aubrey Cohen

Few things are as mundane as parking lots and garages.

Most are dull seas of asphalt and concrete, with little effort made to dress up their utilitarian purpose. But poke around and you can find some that stand out thanks to their location, design or oddities of circumstance.

Here are some of the world’s craziest places to leave your car.

Kansas City Central Library

The south wall of Kansas City Central Library’s parking garage (pictured above) features a “Community Bookshelf” with 22 Mylar book spines. The library chose the titles from a list of community suggestions.

Michigan Theater

The Michigan Theater, which opened in 1926, featured grand columns, marble archways, crystal chandeliers and carved balustrades, according to HistoricDetroit.org. Abuse and neglect over the decades led to a plan to replace the theater with a garage for the adjoining office tower.

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But studies showed the demolition would damage the office building. So, in 1977, the theater itself became a garage.

Garagenatelier

Garagenatelier, in Herdern, Switzerland, puts your car on display, while giving it a grand view. The garage’s five spaces jut out from a hillside, with picture windows.

“Within the surface of the glass, inscriptions by artist Oliver Kühn depict the relationship between automobile and man,” the architecture and design website designboom reports.

Rheinauhafen Tiefgarage

The garage for the Rheinauhafen project, in Cologne, Germany, is notable because it runs for about a mile along the Rhine River. Here’s a video showing the drive through the garage.

Autostadt Car Towers

Autostadt (pictured above) is an automobile theme park adjacent to the Volkswagen Group factory in Wolfsburg, Germany. Automatic systems roll cars roll from the plant to two 157-foot-tall car towers and hoist them into place. Visitors can see the inner workings of the tower as they ascend to a 20th-floor observation deck.

Emirates Financial Towers garage

Emirates Financial Towers, in Dubai, has the world’s largest automated parking garage, according to Guinness World Records. After a visitor leaves a car in a bay, the system parks it in the nine-level, 1,191-space garage. The system even adapts to driver habits, moving a vehicle toward the exit a few minutes before its owner typically leaves.

Brooklyn Parkmatic Carousel

This rotary car storage system stands out thanks to its 43-foot-tall towers, which each accommodate 12 cars in the same footprint as two parking spaces, according to a report in The New York Times. This is Parkmatic’s first U.S. car carousel, although it has built hundreds in other countries, The Times reports. Here’s a video of the system at work.

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ECO Cycle

Space is at a premium in Japan, and many people get around by bike. Thus ECO Cycle. The automated system exists above ground only as a kiosk that pulls bikes in and then lowers them to one of 204 parking spaces, according to this faircompanies video. Japanese engineering firm Giken has built 47 ECO Cycle facilities across Japan since 1998.

Parkhaus Engelenschanze

Several garages could make this list simply by virtue of being gorgeous. A notable example is Parkhaus Engelenschanze, in Munster, Germany, which features a six-story interior courtyard where water cascades down stepped levels to a pond with tall wetland grasses, according to ArchitectureWeek.

Brisbane Airport parking garage

For Brisbane (Australia) Airport’s new domestic short-term parking garage, artist Ned Kahn created an eight-story kinetic facade that flows with the wind, thanks to 117,000 aluminum panels. A rippling line in the facade was inspired by a the reflecting wake of a  Brisbane CityCat ferry. Inside the garage, “patterns of light and shadow project onto the walls and floor as sunlight passes through the facade,” Kahn’s UAP studio writes.

Greenway Self Park

Greenway Self Park bills itself as Chicago’s first Earth-friendly parking garage. The garage’s most notable feature is wind turbines that run up a corner of the building, powering lighting and feeding excess power back into the grid.

Cornerstone Square garage

Cornerstone Square garage, in Canton, Ohio, used to be a typical gray concrete pile. Now, it features walls of brick, steel, subway tile and early 20-century ornamentation. Actually, all of that stuff is just paint, by trompe l'oeil (“deceives the eye”) muralist Eric Grohe.

P-Arken

Why park on land when you can park on a boat, such as the P-Arken, in Gothenburg, Sweden? The lot (pictured above) was created in 1991 using a Korean barge from the 1970s, according to the artful video.

Scott Base parking lot

This lot is notable for its location: Antarctica. While there are other places to park in on the icy continent, this is the only one we know of that has a parking meter. Here’s another view.

Ghost Parking Lot

In 1978, sculptor and architect James Wines stripped 20 cars of their interiors, sandblasted away their paint, filled them to various depths with concrete and covered them all with a thin layer of asphalt, according to The New York Times.

The installation lived in the parking lot of a shopping center in Hamden, Conn. But after years of wear, it was demolished in 2003.

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