Not too long ago, I was talking to an architect friend about design. “In architecture, form must always follow function,” he said with an assertive air. Which makes sense, given that the general purpose of most buildings (and their attendant facilities) is for them to be actually used by people.
If that’s the case, then why are some carparks so badly designed, I asked him. “That’s because they don’t fully understand the object’s function,” was my friend’s reply.
Now, I thought this was one of those outwardly obvious, bolt-from-the-blue epiphanies. What a beautifully simple explanation – everything that’s badly designed comes down to the designer not fully grasping how the end product is used. Occam’s Razor, indeed.
Which got me to thinking: How difficult could designing a carpark possibly be? Here are a few simple commandments to follow: Thou shalt make the ramps wide enough, so leaving a memento of your visit (a bit of your bumper, for instance) is a thing of the past. Thou shalt make the lots large enough, so an elementary yoga course isn’t necessary for getting in/out of one’s car. Thou shalt not erect pillars too close to parking spaces, nor install knee-high kerbs, because they’re sure to scratch shiny new 20-inch rims.
And above all, thou shalt not place humps willy-nilly, especially just before exit gantries, and most especially if said gantry is located on a slope. Granted, the criminal sums some carparks charge might lead one to rash acts, such as approaching a gantry at ramming speed.
Heck, even I, with my non-architecture degree, know this. I’m assuming the people who design these things got far better grades than I could ever hope for in school. That’s why they’re the architects, and I’m just a journalist talking about them.
But then again, the truth behind badly designed carparks might be another application of Occam’s Razor.
As our editor replied during my mid-lunch rant, “Carparks don’t actually make much money for landlords.” Oh well, it’s hard to argue with that sort of logic, eh?