New Housing on a Parking Block: Mini-Santorini on the Rhine
When housing is in short supply, particularly in city centres, property developers increasingly see parking blocks as potential building sites. In the post-war period, they were a constituent part of the car-friendly city and were erected mostly along newly created urban highways. In the meantime, however, dense traffic is no longer welcome near pedestrian zones, and many of the concrete parking structures are in a poor state. That is one reason why their utilization has, in part, declined markedly. On the other hand, there has been a rapid increase in land values in city centres. The planning response to this unsatisfactory situation differs from project to project. In some cases, structures are completely demolished and replaced by housing developments. But there are also examples of studio dwellings being inserted in an existing parking-deck structure and the reinforced concrete skeleton frame being extended.
The initiators of the Magnusstrasse 31 scheme chose a middle course. They removed just two of the original six parking decks and replaced them with two dwelling strips — a three-storey-high tract on the northern side overlooking the Alte Wallgasse, and a two-storey tract on the southern side, facing the interior of the block. The two strips flank an intermediate space – a curved village lane 22 metres above street level. As a result, 31 housing units now provide new dwelling space where previously 100 disused parking spaces had existed.