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Architects Design a Flood-Proof Parking Garage That Rises as It Rains

The design can prevent flood damage and add more green spaces to cities.

Kyree LearyDecember 14th 2017

Rise Up

During heavy rainfall or extreme storms that produce an abundance of water, you’ll often hear weather reports warning of flooding. Streets can sometimes be flooded, but underground structures like parking garages are the most susceptible to being submerged. Enter Danish firm Third Nature, which has designed a flood-proof parking garage that would keep anything within dry and above water.

Their idea, called POP-UP, would see an underground garage use an underlying reservoir to push it above ground as the reservoir fills with water — and lower it as the reservoir empties. On a normal, non-rainy day, it was be a simple garage with an empty reservoir underneath.

A visual representation of how the POP-UP flood-proof parking garage works with varying amounts of rain. Image Credit: Third Nature
A visual representation of how POP-UPs work with varying amounts of rain. (Image Credit: Third Nature)

Third Nature’s design isn’t just to keep parking garages from flooding. The POP-UP has also been developed to add more parkland to a city, giving an area some much-needed plant life, which can absorb rainwater in an otherwise concrete jungle.

As we know, plants are also great at offsetting climate change and global warming, as they can absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and provide shade to cool down nearby pavement. The White Forest Tower in Paris is using 2,000 plants for the same purposes.

“With POP-UP, we have a humane response to man-made problems, combining three challenges in one overall solution, showing the world how climate adaptation, mobility and urban development do not have to be each other’s opposites in the viable cities of the future,” said Ole Schrøder, a founding partner of Third Nature, according to the firm’s website.

Practical, Yet Expensive

According to Business Insider, there are currently no plans to build any of the POP-UPs, but Third Nature states their conceptual garage could be used in cities like Tokyo, London, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, and Singapore.

How the firm would go about building a POP-UP is unclear, though it would undoubtedly be an engineering challenge. Additionally, most current garages are built beneath additional infrastructure, so it would be difficult to convert current parking garages into floating versions. Third Nature is likely aware of this, as they explain on their website that their flood-proof parking garage is “estimated to be three times as expensive as a traditional parking house above ground.”

“This is a conservative approach to ensure that POP-UP is not unfairly favored in the economic modeling,” the firm continued. “However, the sale of the lot makes up for the extra costs.”

If recent storms like Hurricane Harvey are an indication, however, the world could use structures that can withstand — and adapt to — the elements. With the possibility that extreme storms could become more extreme due to climate change, it may be best to come up with a plan to build structures like these sooner, rather than later.

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