Pompidou-inspired car park by JAJA Architects to feature planted facade and rooftop park

This multi-storey car park for Copenhagen by local firm JAJA Architects will feature a plant-covered facade to hide the cars inside and grand external staircases leading to a landscaped park on the roof (+ slideshow).

Park n Play car park by JAJA Architects

The Park 'n' Play car park concept by JAJA Architects won a competition organised by the Copenhagen Port and City Development for a site in the emerging Nordhavn area. It will provide locals and visitors with a new public plaza and play area.

Park n Play car park by JAJA Architects

"This project is based on a standard, pre-defined concrete structure," said the architects. "As a second layer, our proposal becomes the active filter on top of a generic, multi-level car park."

Park n Play car park by JAJA Architects

The car park's functional concrete frame is used as the basis for a staggered pattern of planting boxes that wrap around the building and contain greenery to shield the parking spaces from view.

Park n Play car park by JAJA Architects

"Instead of concealing the parking structure, we propose a concept that enhances the beauty of the structural grid while breaking up the scale of the massive facade," the architects explained.

Park n Play car park by JAJA Architects

Many of the harbour buildings in the former port region are constructed from red brick, so the architects specified that the car park should be built from concrete that has been tinted a similar shade.

Park n Play car park by JAJA Architects

Influenced by the staircases on the outside of the iconic Centre Pompidou in Paris, stairs rise from the ground floor across the long sections on the north and south sides of the car park.

Park n Play car park by JAJA Architects

The walls behind these staircases will be decorated with a frieze created by Copenhagen visual designers RAMA Studio, which will depict the area's industrial history.

Park n Play car park by JAJA Architects

A handrail will follow the staircase as it ascends across the facade and then continue when it reaches the roof, transforming into an architectural feature that unites the various leisure spaces and play areas.

Park n Play car park by JAJA Architects

"From street level, the railing literally takes the visitors by the hand, inviting them on a trip to the rooftop landscape and amazing view of the Copenhagen harbour," said the architects.

Park n Play car park by JAJA Architects
Axonometric diagram showing the planted wall

As well as connecting playgrounds featuring swings and climbing structures, the rooftop railing will incorporate fences and plants to help provide sheltered spaces for relaxing.

Park n Play car park by JAJA Architects
Axonometric diagram showing the external stairs

Construction is due to begin later this year, becoming the latest in a string of unusual car parks around the world. Examples include a car park in Bordeaux with housing on its roof, another in Austria with colourful parking spaces surrounded by criss-crossing concrete columns, and Herzog & de Meuron's multipurpose car park building in Miami.

Here's a project description from JAJA Architects:


Park 'n' Play

Parking houses should be an integral part of the city. But how can we challenge the mono-functional use of the conventional parking house? How do we create a functional parking structure, which is also an attractive public space? And how do we create a large parking house that respects the scale, history and future urban culture of the new development area Nordhavn in Copenhagen?

The site

The new parking house will be situated in Århusgadekvarteret, which is the first phase of a major development plan for Nordhavn. It is currently under development and will in the near future host a mix of new and existing buildings. Today, the area is known as the Red Neighbourhood because of the historical and characteristic red brick harbour buildings. The future development will build upon this historical trait and merge existing characteristics into new interpretations.

Park n Play car park by JAJA Architects
Diagram showing car park structure

The project

The starting point for the competition project was a conventional parking house structure. The task was to create an attractive green façade and a concept that would encourage people to use the rooftop. Instead of concealing the parking structure, we propose a concept that enhances the beauty of the structural grid while breaking up the scale of the massive façade. A system of plant boxes is placed in a rhythm relating to the grid, which introduces a new scale while also distributing the greenery across the entire façade.

The grid of plant boxes on the facade is then penetrated by two large public stairs, which have a continuous railing that becomes a fantastic playground on the rooftop. From being a mere railing it transforms to becoming swings, ball cages, jungle gyms and more. From street level, the railing literally takes the visitors by the hand; invite them on a trip to the rooftop landscape and amazing view of the Copenhagen Harbour.

Structure

This project is based on a standard, pre-defined concrete structure. As a second layer, our proposal becomes the active filter on top of a generic, multi level car park. The structure has a rational and industrial crudeness, which suits the area’s spirit and history; however, the traditional concrete parking structure can appear cold and hard. As a natural continuation of the area’s red brick identity, we propose a red colouring of the concrete structure. With this simple measure, the grey frame is transformed into a unique building structure, which radiates warmth and intimacy through its materiality and surface, in harmony with the surroundings that are dominated by red roof tiles and bricks.

Park n Play car park by JAJA Architects
Diagram showing the green facade

The green façade

The building will be a large volume in a compact, urban setting, and because of its proximity to the surrounding urban spaces, the parking house will predominately be seen from close-up. To provide scale to the large building, we propose planted façades where a green structure interacts with the building behind. The green façade is made up of a plant "shelving system", which emphasises the parking structure and interacts with the rhythm of columns behind. Plant boxes introduce scale and depth, and provide rhythm to the façade.

The placement of plant boxes follows the grid of the parking house, and there is a box placed in a staggered rhythm for every second column, in the full height of the building. The system of plant boxes brings depth and dynamic to the façade, while also matching the neighbouring buildings' proportions and detailing. The plant structure covers all four façades, and provides coherence and identity to the whole building. The green façade is planned into a time perspective, to provide for the quickest possible plant growth against the tinted concrete. The expression of the façades is based on an interaction between structure and nature, the structural vs. the organic, and provides an exciting interdependence between the two.

Park n Play car park by JAJA Architects
Diagram showing the active roof

The staircase and the roof

The basic principle of an active parking house is the idea of an accessible and recreational roof offered to local inhabitants and visitors alike. Visibility and accessibility are therefore essential when creating a living roof. A staircase towards the open square provides a diagonal connection between street and roof level, and invites people to ascend along the façade. The course of the staircase follows the building's structural rhythm, and each landing provides a view across the surrounding urban spaces and at the top, a view to the roofs of Copenhagen.

The staircase has references to Centre Pompidou, where the movement along the façade is an experience in itself. Along the back wall of the staircase, we work with our friends at RAMA Studio to create a graphical frieze, which, in an abstract, figurative form conveys the history of the area. The narrative can be seen from street level, and followed more closely when the visitor ascends along the staircase. Along here, we also establish alternative access points to the parking levels. The frieze tells a story of past and future, and becomes a modern tale of the area’s industrial history and its future as Copenhagen's new development by the harbour. The two flights of stairs on the Northern and Southern façades stand out as vertical passages through the greenery, and clearly mark the connection between street level and the active roof.

Elevation of Park n Play car park by JAJA Architects
Proposed elevation - click for larger image

The red thread

The red thread is a physical guide through the parking structure's public spaces, which leads the visitor from street level, where the guide is introduced as a handrail on the staircase. As a sculptural guide it almost literally takes the visitor by the hand, and leads along the stairs to the top and through the activity landscape on the roof. Here, it becomes a sculpture and offers experiences, resting spaces, play areas and spatial diversity. Activities along the red thread could be traditional such as swings, climbing sculptures etc., but also more architectural elements such as fencing and plants, which can emphasise or establish spaces while providing shelter from the weather.

The elevated activity sculpture above the roof provides great flexibility, and makes the exciting activities visible from street level. The sculpture’s journey across the roof continues uninterrupted, before leading back along the second staircase towards the street. Combined the stairs through the green façade and the active roof make up a living, urban landscape that invites for both rest, fun and excitement.

As such the structure becomes a red thread through the project, and connects the façade, the stairs and the activities on the roof as one single element. Copenhagen's new parking house will be a social meeting ground and an active part of its local environment – as an urban bonus for locals, athletes and visitors alike.

Project description: Park 'n' Play
Program: parking structure
Architect: JAJA Architects, Copenhagen
Client: Copenhagen Port & City Development
Year: 2014 (completion 2015)
Size: +20.000M2