Including Parking Lots in the New Urban Imaginary

    • Cover Photo
    • Presentation speakers
      • Marta Rabazo Martín, Architect at Balmori Associates (NY) / Università Roma Tre, Rome, Italy


    Like any other discipline dealing with urban settlements and human relations, landscape architecture infiltrates from the larger scale to the local project, arriving to colonize interstices between the different layers of the city, scales of intervention and wide range of users. Urban lost space, voids within the urban fabric, become then a great lesson to understand how landscape can be a tool to deal with urban scape’s figures and not just a superficial practice to mitigate or embellish. Parking lots belong to that kind of lost spaces that have a secondary role within the urban machine but are mandatory to make it work. Forgotten from a design point of view due their lucrative character, their great impact on land use, their capacity to relieve the city of the increasing presence of cars and their importance within an ecological and sustainable framework where the proper use of its materials can help reduce impervious surfaces, fight heat islands, and contribute to the control of water runoff and effective groundwater recharge, make them claim our economic investment and our attention as designers of our urban environment. Renowned landscape designer Diana Balmori stated that “a Parking lot seems an unlikely place to begin the design of a new building and landscape” but she managed to make it the main public space of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas and starting point of the botanical experience, with a large sample of plant species under investigation running along the paths leading from the parking lot to the building. The paper will review recent projects of parking lots that become a great lesson on how to deal with the sense of identity of a community, the inclusion of leftover spaces or the hybridization of their programs, within the urban ecology and contemporary public realm.