The adaptive reuse potential of obsolete inner-city car parking structures for urban farming: 3 UK cases

Monika Anna Szopińska-Mularz, Steffen Lehmann

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Cities are evolving in response to continuously changing forces and issues around food, energy, water and transport are relevant to their design and development. This paper explores the adaptive reuse potential of a specific type of building from the mid-20th century Modern Movement that was born out of necessity: the inner-city parking structure. Some of these large garages occupy very central and precious land. However, the potential of adapting them to different functions and today`s environmental expectations can be challenging. The transformation of these increasingly redundant garages is inherently challenged through the need for new mixed-use typologies. Besides the immense embodied energy contained in these structures, there are also other criteria that need to be considered: local community concerns suggest that it is important to retain them as elements of the identity of place, guiding the decision-making process of adaptive reuse versus demolition.

While the authors investigated new use potential of up-cycling, local stakeholders and social organisations clearly indicated the role of urban farming in future cities. In the context of increasing density, technologically advanced farming installations are seen as a viable solution for retrofitting car-parking structures, including robotic hydroponics, where vegetables grow in water enriched with nutrients and minerals. The comparative multiple-site case study of car-parking structures strategically selected in 3 UK cities (Portsmouth, Bristol and Brighton) conducted through literature review, interviews, surveys, field observation and visual research will serve as a preparation for future Urban Living Labs to reuse multi-storey parking structures as a local secondary food source.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication15th International Docomomo conference proceedings
PublisherDocomomo International
Publication statusAccepted for publication - 28 May 2018
EventInternational Docomomo conference: Metamorphosis – The Continuity of Change - Cankarjev Dom, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Duration: 28 Aug 201831 Aug 2018
Conference number: 15


ConferenceInternational Docomomo conference
Internet address


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