The adaptive reuse of inner-city car parking structures for innovative controlled environment agriculture systems
: an architectural and urban investigation into the potential for the sustainable regeneration of modern derived infrastructures in some contemporary UK cities

  • Monika Anna Szopińska-Mularz

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The global food supply can trigger adverse impacts, which are evident in the UK context. Developing a local food system is required, however this is a challenge due to its complexity. In the urban context, buildings are seen as a resource that when up-cycled can provide a space for controlled environment agriculture as the most productive urban farming technique. This thesis investigates the architectural typology of modern movement multi-storey garages, whose future is now discussed due to their function, aesthetics and inner-city location, offering new insights into one of the alternatives in which they can be put to use.

The research aims to explore the adaptive reuse potential of inner-city modern movement car parking structures for a viable controlled environment agriculture operation from the architect`s perspective, and to determine the alterations within the existing architectural typology that would be required to accommodate this innovative use as a response to changing urban demands. The investigation, led by the design thinking process, is divided into research for design and research by design. Research for design theoretically explores the planning, architectural and environmental criteria relevant from the architect`s perspective for the proposed up-cycling in the temperate climatic zone. Based on these findings, a guide for the analysis of the adaptive reuse potential of inner-city modern movement car parking structures for controlled environment agriculture has been developed and applied to the case studies in the UK as explanatory research by design, which has led to the development of initial design scenarios. As a result, the up-cycling potential of three garages has been conceptualised in planning, architectural and environmental categories, providing insights on the type-alterations required to accommodate this innovative use in the urban environment.

The conclusions indicate that the application of the guide delivers a series of possible avenues which, when based on existing knowledge, offer viable initial design scenarios. The investigation is context-specific because it defines the conditions for long-term functioning, which depend on the fusion between current knowledge and the unique planning, architectural and environmental context of the modern movement garage. Adaptive reuse within this architectural typology may lead to the innovative type-alteration, which allows a building rooted in the past to meet urban demands. It is an adequate decision to determine these alterations at the initial stage of the research due to the flexibility in shaping final design scenarios. However, the key drivers to enable such a retrofit arise from the planning and environmental phases of the guide’s application because they deliver benefits for urban sustainability, which outbalance local food cultivation from the perspective of stakeholders.
Date of AwardJun 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorAntonino Di Raimo (Supervisor), Fabiano Lemes De Oliveira (Supervisor) & Steffen Lehmann (Supervisor)

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