In response to changing demands for inner-city parking, companies are looking for effective solutions for repurposing unused parking space to meet the new needs of commuters – like urban farming!
When you take the lift down to the basement carpark of Mirvac’s EY Centre at 200 George Street in Sydney, visitors are greeted by something unusual. While much of the space is used for car parking, part of the space has been transformed into an urban farm that features vegetable patches, a hydroponic vertical farm and a vertical Farmwall (with each such element growing their own varieties of herbs and leafy greens).
The farm also provides mushrooms, which are grown in coffee ground waste saved from landfill. Workers are encouraged to tend the farm and also to learn about growing their own food. Produce is sent to nearby cafés, including Mirvac’s own internal café in the building. The farm was created by Mirvac in conjunction with natural urban food processing ecosystem startup, Farmwall.
As well as helping the environment, the farm has helped to foster and improve connections among Mirvac’s own workforce. Company staff not only enjoy planting but they get to interact with their colleagues in a less formalised setting.
Mirvac’s EY Centre carpark has been transformed into an urban farm.
Such an example highlights a growing trend of office landlords reimagining and repurposing basement space as demand for car parking among employees [in the city] declines.
This drop in demand for car parking stems from multiple factors. Greater infrastructure investment means public transport options will be more readily available going forward. A focus on wellbeing is seeing increasing numbers of people walk or ride to work. Flexible working arrangements and remote working mean fewer staff are coming into offices. For those that do use vehicles, ride sharing and car sharing options means fewer bring their own cars. Local governments are discouraging new car parking spaces – the City of Sydney wants to halve new parking space provision by 2030.
Because of this, Victoria Tavendale, General Manager, Asset Management, Office & Industrial, says landlords are looking at how basement space can be better used.
In Mirvac’s case, the company has transformed an old bank vault at its Collins Street building in Melbourne into end-of-trip facilities with showers, WCs, secure lockers and change rooms. The building now has 201 car parking spaces as well as 200 bike racks, 452 lockers and 22 showers.
The company is also changing the structure of its contractual agreements to enable greater flexibility for tenants in the number of spaces they lease. It is also partnering with third party operators to introduce casual car-parking options and providing apps to tenants to ensure seamless car parking bookings and management.
“A number of factors are causing a fundamental shift in the tenant demand for car parking in commercial buildings in Australia…,” Tavendale said via email. “…As a result companies now require less car spaces for their employees and are looking for a more flexible solution to manage the car spaces they do have.”
Josh Brydges, locations and transport planner for Australia’s largest car sharing service GoGet, agrees. As the cost and hassle associated with driving to CBDs increase, Brydges says many people will opt instead for public transport or car share services. As a result, much of the underground parking space constructed over recent years is becoming redundant and landlords are seeking to use this space more effectively.
Creating end-of-trip facilities in carparks is one innovative solution.
Brydges says [new] parking space that is provided should be designed in a flexible manner to enable entire spaces to be repurposed as autonomous vehicles grow in popularity and thus space requirements for car parking are further reduced in the future.
Finally, there are new services. For example, Central Park in Sydney reduced its parking footprint by half compare with traditional parking arrangements. While some of this space has been given to car share, part is used for recycled water.
Tavendale agrees about the need for flexibility to accommodate future uses. This could include gyms, yoga rooms or fitness centres, movie theatres and bars, extra tenant storage, larger end-of-trip facilities, moving building facilities and service systems from roofs to car parks to make room for future deliveries by drone, ecommerce distribution centres for truck or even drone deliveries, maker spaces to test innovative ideas, and art galleries or studios.
As fewer people take their own vehicles to work, demand for basement car parking space will decline. For landlords wishing to maximise the value of their space, this presents a significant opportunity.
Modified from article by Andrew Heaton via Sourceable.