Monday, September 10, 2007

The Joy of Parking

For anyone interested in the built environment - especially it's under-noticed aspects, BLDGBLOG is a must read. In a recent post he points to a new book (and articles on it) The Architecture of Parking.

I must admit, these kinds of places fascinate me, both as part of our social structure and also photographically. And while the book itself appears to be an interesting if enthusiastic paean to parking structures, I like the slightly darker take on them from BLDGBLOG:

"Building Design takes a look at the "joy of car parks" – including this beautifully faux-classical quasi-Piranesian garage, the Parc des Célestins, built in 1994 in Lyon.Unable to resist the obvious, however, when I hear someone say "the joy of car parks" I have to quote J.G. Ballard: "Take a structure like a multi-storey car park, one of the most mysterious buildings ever built. Is it a model for some strange psychological state, some kind of vision glimpsed within its bizarre geometry? What effect does using these buildings have on us? Are the real myths of this century being written in terms of these huge unnoticed structures?""

(I'd also add that for anyone photographing the modern city, reading J.G. Ballard is also essential...)

Finally, I know this last example first hand from Chichester where I grew up. I must say they certainly highlight it's features in the photograph, mirroring the medieval/roman wall of the city. But finding your way along the "battlements" to your parking spot with an 18 month old in typical British Autumn rain is more like advancing across the Somme. Which is to say that while I do find such structures fascinating, I have rarely found one that is pleasant or innovative to experience - but more usually oppressive and frustrating.

As for the futuristic "Matrix" style car park they show, I have trouble enough worrying I'm going to stop in time when I go over the little wheel ramp in a car wash, never mind some thing that's going to hoist my car into a sort of automobile filing cabinet.

(And then there's Martin Parr's photographs of parking spaces - a book I'm not quite sure I want to fork out for)


adrian tyler said...

the parr book is gonna be worth $500 next year, keep the shrink wrap on it and it'll be worth more!

Moon River said...

Tim, Your Traces project is very beautiful.