Woven sleeve to combine function and aesthetics
Multi-storey car parks frequently have almost no image. As a means to an end, they offer parking spaces instead of aesthetics. Treated for a long time as the Cinderella of architecture, in many locations that are merely great lumps of concrete devoid of charm or soul and have been dumped into their surroundings with little thought or sensitivity. Even now it is still very seldom that a builder sees the potential for expressing a Corporate Identity that is hidden in multi-storey car parks. However, new construction materials, structures and methods increasingly can make out of these purely functional buildings for traffic architecture something that deserves a second look. A significant part of the impetus that has been given to literally put multi-storey car parks in a better light has been provided by the international leader in technical weaving, GKD – Gebr. Kufferath AG. Their architectural and design fabrics first found application in the 1990’s by Helmut Jahn in the multi-storey car park at Cologne/Bonn airport. Today this material that is just as functional as it is aesthetic is used in multi-storey car parks around the world. The transparency of the textile structure allows natural lighting throughout the day, while at night it makes the building into a fixed point that is illuminated from the inside. This cladding with the transparent media façade systems Mediamesh® or Illumesh® has within itself in addition an enormous amount of design and utilization potential. This metal fabric with integrated LED profiles transforms the car parks into a media platform that makes a strong statement. While Illumesh® can bring the facades to life at night at relatively little cost through animated lighting, Mediamesh® can make a powerful advertising statement with moving images, advertising clips or advanced graphics around the clock and in the best reproduction quality. This has a very attractive potential for marketing and in particular at forms of traffic architecture that are heavily used such as airports or stadiums.
The most recent example of an attractive form of multi-storey car park architecture with the creative use of metal fabric is a car park in Florida. Located right next to the international airport of Miami, a large parking area with office, commercial and residential areas was set up here on the site of a former logistics warehouse. The Park Square Doral area that has just been completed is a focal point and the main attraction of this suburb of Miami that has a population of 30,000. The stipulations of the owners to the planners of Zyscovich Architects were therefore to incorporate the multi-storey car park that was required in a way that fitted in aesthetically into the overall structure of the park. Low maintenance costs, robust enough to withstand the elements and natural ventilation were further aspects that the plan had to take into consideration as a matter of great importance.
Chessboard made of fabric
The solution that the architects found to this was in the stainless steel fabric from GKD that concealed the supporting structures with a metallic shimmer. The choice fell on an especially made version of the standard Omega fabric that is made up of zones that are woven to varying degrees of density in 104 panels that are each 11.50 m in length and between 1.50 and 3 m in height. These panels allowed an oversized chess board to be put up. The special challenge here lay in the absolutely precise arrangement and design of the transitions of the individual panels. The shimmering effect that changes according to how the light falls on it was an intentionally calculated design effect that gives the 2,500m² of the facade covering a fascinating 3D effect. With a lively interaction with the environment, it consciously makes a statement and reflects light, colours and movement from its vicinity. Just like a curtain, during the daytime it hides people and machines that are inside the car park. But after dark it gives an unobstructed view into what is going on inside.
Functionality of the meshes
In addition to this extraordinary aesthetic, the functional properties of the woven membrane made a positive impression on the owners. The stainless steel fabric can withstand wind speeds of up to 235 km/h and thus also hurricanes of force 4 in this region. The filigree mesh structure effectively protects the visitors to the car park against driving rain and draughts while at the same time guaranteeing natural ventilation. The fabric also shows its capabilities by providing robust protection against the sun and ensure that there is a pleasant climate inside the car park. In addition, it provides protection against falling, cannot burn and needs almost no maintenance. The rain cleans it, and neither vandalism nor a high degree of use can affect its natural beauty.
With its striking pattern the multi-storey car park in the Park Square Doral makes a clear statement against monotony in the design of traffic architecture. An aesthetic impression, high user-friendliness and functional Facility Management provide at the same time for the often requested improvement in the level of this type of architecture and successfully gives added value to the area.