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In light of the recent visionary plans
of changing the urban transportation system in Germany and around Europe, the
studio collective will be looking into the big topic of parking garages. The
point of interest would be the capital of Germany, Berlin, where parking
garages are increasingly vacant.

 

Garages are the most honest structure made
of fundamental modular system and are situated in a network of strategic
locations serving an agenda of its time. It is familiar to everyone regardless
of whether they own an automobile or not. Arguably the most regular structure,
surprisingly it comes with high specificity. As the present is at the tipping
point of car-world into post-car-world, a pattern of actions
could crucially determine the fate of garages in the future. It is both
appealing and logical to adapt and repurpose garages independently to a
specific unique program which could reintegrate with its urban context.

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From abstract data to concrete
standards, this research aims to study as well as decipher a garage as node and
subsequently making an intervention derived from absolute rules which are logical,
systematic and consistent as a base to apply to the network of garages. This pre-conditions
the intervention for its own self-expansion infinitively in hopes to create a
phenomena which is “contagious, that little causes can have big effects, and
that changes can happen not in a gradual linear way but dramatically at a
moment when the system switches.”1

 

This thesis explores the topic in three
chapters; qualitative site research, in depth selected garage study and program
proposal.  The first chapter will lay out
the ground work by studying the tangible and intangible qualities of the site
of the selected garage. The second chapter looks into detail of the selected
garage in terms of existing structure, elements and grid. Finally, based on the
first two chapters, a suitable program is proposed.

 

The first chapter introduces the chosen site
which is located in the capital
of Germany, Berlin because Germany is one of the pioneers of the automotive
industry in the world. The shift for the German automotive industry arise in
the mid-1930s following a transport policy of motorisation where it was
considered a key element to raise the people’s standard of living. Therefore,
the development of Autobahn (“major highway”) schemes and the Volkswagen
(“people’s car”) project.

 

As compared to the present day, Berlin’s
ideal routes are no longer shaped by motorways, alternatively, they are shaped
by railways and bus lines; the new means of transportation for the common
people. This causes parking garages to be more and more underused hence the
need to consider how the future’s transportation system may further affect
these structures and how it may be transcended.

 

            All the garages in Berlin are
firstly located then documented in search for a specific garage. The selected garage
is located on Ritterstrasse in the middle of a trajectory of
Kottbusser Tor, Moritzplatz and Prinzenstrasse within the district of
Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. It was chosen out of a total of 217 garages in Berlin
and it is one out of seven in its district. The change in the network of garages (being underused and isolated) that
is expected to happen as we are at the tipping point into post-car-world is evident in this selected garage despite its
strategic location. This is the reason for choosing this particular garage as
it will make a good prototype to explore the intervention.  

 

            The following chapter will look closely
into the garage and its immediate context to develop further insight useful for
its re-adaptation. The structure as well as supporting elements are carefully identified
to produce a grid of the garage and its surrounding urban context. The
particular interest in the grid is due to its importance in history and will be
useful for the re-adaptation, modification and extension of the garage.

 

            It is said that the grid or grid system
is the “emblematic of the modernist ambition.”2 It
has sustained itself through different periods of time since its birth and will
certainly continue to survive and evolve. From pre-set grids to more complex
grids, it has a high margin of striking efficiency and surviving endless
repetition without condemning its initial idea.

 

            Similarly, the grid within the urban
fabric shares the same characteristics where it has been around for a long time
starting from the first man who divided plots of land for agriculture or simply
marking one’s territory; be it for economic, political or geographical reasons
and that is how the urban fabric today is formed. The urban fabric today are
consists of layers of grids imported in by many different means mapped onto one
another.

 

According to Kevin Lynch in the Image of
the City, paths, edges, districts, nodes and landmarks make up the grid of the
city and by the same token, a garage is identified as a node because garages
are located at prime locations of the area or becomes the prime location of the
area. Due to the under usage of the selected garage, this node is slowly fading
but it can be mended by re-activating this garage as a node of a different use.

 

The last chapter will focus conjointly
on the adaptation of the existing garage structurally and programmatically. The
chosen site is a diamond in the rough, a small gem of the neighbourhood which
has yet to transform to its full potential. One of the prominent features of
the site is the high foreign demographics especially originating from Turkey. Inspired
by the cultures of the local Turkish community, the program of marriage strikes
out for many comprehensible reasons.

 

Perhaps the relationship of the function
of garage and marriage could be comparable. Garages are most public space
versus automobiles are one of the most private spaces (where you hide away
during your cheat meals, have a private phone call, or even one of the most
heated arguments you ever had). Yet, marriage is a very personal agenda which
manages to straddle between public and private. It is one of your most private
moments in your life and often celebrated with the entire social context.

 

Primarily, the site calls for a lively
activity which creates a destination; a centre of a different kind of social
space, also there is a certain kind of seductiveness to this semi-fantasy of a
program. Based on the intricate research from the previous two chapters, the
idea is to propose a program to bring life
back to the site and marriage is a very concrete way of saying “YES” to life. It will be a journey of a
chronological ascend into the next chapter of life with this celebration of the
holy matrimony.

 

The current probabilities call for this
injection of life although this program could be only one of the actualities. This
could be seen as a temporary identity
as spaces evolve likewise as people and society evolve accustoming to different
agendas.

 

The final and main objective is to
develop a prototype which could be manipulated accordingly to reapply in all
garages of different conditions where “the idea becomes a machine that makes
the art.”3 As
we glimpse into the future, theoretically, this proves that parking garages are
becoming the next frontiers of adaptive reuse and this methodology of
re-adaptation will succeed as a prototype to set this course in motion.

 

From questions of mobility, spirit of
garages to the adaptive reuse, an assessment of whether the butterfly effect of
small interventions made to these nodes now may produce a large and impactful
effect of a new post-car system that
would transform the future of our urban fabric.

1 John Urry, The ‘System’ of Automobility (England: Department of Sociology,
Lancaster University, n.d.), 14.

2
Rosalind
Krauss, October, Vol. 9 (New York: The
MIT Press, 1979), 50.

3
Barbara Haskell, Agnes Martin (New York:
Whitney Museum of American Art, 1994), 135.

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