September 28, 2020

An M.C. Escher Inspired Parking Lot for Bikes is Open for Business in The Hague

One of these places is best known as the Netherlands. Here, bikes have been a staple of daily life for decades. One of the cities in the region, The Hague, has taken bike riding to a whole new level. The newest addition to their infrastructure is a parking lot. But remember it’s a parking lot in a region overrun with bikes, makes sense that it’s only for bikes.

To get an understanding of what is happening in this space, we want you to imagine for a second how we park our cars. We usually park in flat 2D parking spaces. Or if we’re lucky enough, our cities have multi-level parking structures. But even those parking lots allow for cars to be parked only layer at a time.

Now, because the bike is smaller than a car, different mechanics can be used in storing or parking them. This parking structure by Silo in collaboration with studio Marsman, was designed to be efficient, attractive, and easy to use.

Built underneath Koningin Julianaplein, this parking structure sits face to face with Central Station, one of the busiest points in the city, so it’s prime real estate for something like this to be tested. But the Dutch have been using parking structures like this for years, but this one is a bit more than just that.

Just to start things off, we need to bring to your attention that walls of the enclosure are inspired by M.C. Escher. This makes it more of an art gallery in which you can ride and park your bike in. The wall segments are made in such a way as to offer a flowing and changing pattern that gives you something nice to look at while you’re riding around looking for a spot. An image in the gallery will show you a completed diagram of the wall design in miniature.

The use of ultra-high ceilings offers the space, an open feel like airport parking lots. Lighting is provided from the ceiling and from behind the Escher walls. The use of directional markings, similar to those we use in giant lots to find our cars, are also used here with the same purpose.

Once inside, we see that the structure is built like aisles in a market. Let’s say you pick an isle to park your bike in, but you find that all of the 8,000 available spaces are taken. As you sit there looking frustrated, another biker comes into the same aisle as you, props their bike on a kickstand and reaches over one of the parked bikes to pull down a ramp. With the ramp in place the rider grabs the bike, raises it onto the ramp, parks it above the other bikes, and then leaves.

You then realize that this structure is meant to allow for two vertical layers of bikes. Something similar for cars is being studied and has even been applied in certain areas around the world. If you’re familiar with the Koshi concept, it’s basically the direction things are headed.

But for bike and cities with a large amount of bike traffic, this type of structure offers the necessary features to meet more than just the current demand for bicycles. I’m sure in the future we may be seeing charging stations for ebikes in structures like these.

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