Wöhr is a German company whose purpose is to compact parking space. They have worked with numerous European cities including Berlin, Amsterdam, Madrid, and Budapest. I had a look at their project outline for Budapest’s Parksafe 580, which is quite an impressive downtown car park. Wöhr was presented with a special challenge in Budapest: the parcel chosen for parking had to have its façade maintained due to City ordinances. Additionally, the top 5 floors of the building are used as modern office space. This is probably very similar to many situations in old European cities, so this example will serve well. The solution they came up with stores 580 cars. A user enters the car park, takes a ticket which registers her license number, drives to the open garage door and temporarily parks on the loading platform. Once she leaves the car, the garage door is closed and then the real magic happens. Her car is swept up like an elevator to the upper levels of the building where cars are stored automatically. They are placed in rows of 3 next to a row of 1 to enable easy retrieval of vehicles when the user returns. (The retrieval process is still a bit of a puzzle to me – maybe you can figure it out.) You can see photos of the project here.
While I’d love to see more efforts to minimize parking in downtowns and city centers, this solution allowed Budapest to preserve an historic building while serving the needs of downtown employees who need to drive to work. It also preserved land from being used as a parking lot and saves street space for pedestrians, café seating, bicycles, and public transit. I’ll take it.