Panelbeating. Automotive landscape. Competition entry for Auckland Architecture Association Cavalier Bremworth awards '07
Carparks are not to be thought of as simply service-spaces. Large carparks typically have distant corners which are rarely used for parking. These spaces take on another life, serving a range of complex functions: kicking it, demonstrating the volume of car audio systems, ghost-riding the whip, eating KFC, waiting up, showing off, making trademe meetings, performing minor repairs and upgrades. This project proposes a strategic excess of parking in order to allow for these events. Rather than a place to leave your car, this project provides a space which is inhabited in continual reference to the mobile space of the car. The site is located on Ti Rakau Drive in Pakuranga, a main arterial route to the Botany Downs shopping centre, and the rapid suburban developments of East Auckland. The area is dominated by vehicular traffic, big-box retail, and industry. The large scale of the site is unfriendly to pedestrians. A panelbeating shop is a sophisticated formal laboratory. Sheets of metal are shaped three-dimensionally through bending, hammering, moulding, routing, punching, denting. Aftermarket modification is often sneered at as an amateur pursuit, aesthetically unworthy. The technologies and formal strategies of car modification are used in this project to address the primarily surface-based condition of a carpark. Solar panel surfaces made from laminate of toughened glass and extruded photovoltaic sheets collect power for lighting. Future increases in efficiency of photovoltaics will allow recharging of electric vehicles. Plates are folded up into low islands and oriented to collect sunlight. Service masts made of folded and welded steel sheets provide lighting and patchy surveillance. Selected masts also incorporate self-service fuel pumps and recharge ports. Rubbish bins are recessed into the ground. Surface water is gathered into shallow puddles which become sheets of slightly oily water when it rains. When puddles reach a predetermined size they drain into a system of shallow channels and culverts cut into the parking surface and run off into tidal sedimentation basins. Mangroves trap anoxic sediment and prevent trace metals and contaminants from entering groundwater and waterways. The existing tidal creek at the north boundary has been dredged and extended into large tidal sedimentation basins which collect surface water. Sediment will accumulate as mangroves take hold, and the system will stabilise according to the amount of runoff.