From sustainable car park to mobility hub: three eco-design approaches to mobility infrastructures
In the context of densification and reasonable use of raw materials, our urban infrastructures are becoming more evolutionary and reversible. This is one of the principles of the circular economy, and car parks / ownership will not not escape this strong trend – luckily for everyone's quality of life.
Designing sustainable parking
Conscious for several years of the need to design future-oriented mobility infrastructures, we adopted an eco-design approach for the Genk hospital car park. On the Gasthuisberg (UZ Leuven) campus, the underground car park of more than 50,000 m² was designed to allow the overbuilding of four buildings of varied typology. For the Eandis project in Mechelen, winner of an ambitious competition in 2018, we proposed an evolutionary ‘mobility hub’.
For the design of the car park at Genk Hospital (Ziekenhuis Oost-Limburg), we have adopted a sustainable approach aimed at drastically reducing the environmental footprint of the infrastructure. In this perspective, the optimisation of the structural reach (7.5 x 17 m) has allowed an economical implementation of the materials and offers great flexibility of development. We combined this with the choice of recyclable materials for the light façade, made of perforated aluminum sheets. The high rigidity of the sheets, which each have three folds of varying width, allows them to be fixed only at the top and bottom, avoiding the additional need for a support structure.
The combination offers a resolutely contemporary aesthetic thanks to the outer skin that dynamically reflects the light. In addition, thanks to the volumetry and the carefully considered orientation of the structure, a set of photovoltaic panels has been included on the roof. The installation, with an area of 6,000 m², produces up to 470,89 kWp, supplying charging points for electric vehicles which are available in numbers. The green slope on the northern side and the permeable ground on the lower level allow on-site rainwater infiltration to be maximized. Floor heights have also been thought to allow the building to be transformed and host other functions in the long term. Last but not least, we took particular care to preserve biodiversity by integrating special features to protect local birds and insects: on the eastern facade, we provided about twenty bird shelters, and on the south-facing wall we integrated “insect hotels”.
Anticipating future (over)building
Land reserves are not unlimited and the sustainable management of urban space requires rational densification. With this in mind, one of the routes is to create underground car parks able to accommodate any type of future real estate development, creating optimal conditions of security and flexibility. This requires a good anticipation of the constraints and opportunities from the first sketches of the support infrastructure.
To meet the restructuring and extension needs of the Gasthuisberg hospital campus (UZ Leuven), we have designed a large underground car park with 1,500 spaces on which four separate buildings have been overbuilt. The campus, reorganised since 2002 according to the logic of an urban network composed of city-style blocks connected by public spaces, includes buildings with various functions – accommodation, administration, clinical activities, etc. To support these different typologies, the parking area of more than 50,000 m² adopts a post-tensioned concrete structure offering great flexibility (no beams) and optimal lift. The light structure and airy spaces are finished with a colourful coating and contemporary lighting.
Case study - UZL GASTHUISBERG
Redesigning a hospital campus, a long-term collaboration
From car park to mobility hub
For the infrastructure project on the Eandis site in Mechelen, winner of a competition in association with POLO-architects and Vogt Landscape architects in 2018, we proposed a multifunctional parking tower developed from a contextual and future-oriented approach. The infrastructure proposes a “reversible” car park model that can be adapted or reallocated according to the technological and programmatic evolutions of the coming years: shared vehicles, automation of transport, and even the transformation of some levels into offices.
More than a car park, the project is a real mobility hub in the heart of Mechelen, supporting sustainable mobility and the quality of urban life in the spirit of the circular economy. The expressive structure will have an accessible green roof and a public forecourt visually linked to the historic heart of the city. The first development of this iconic project will include office space, a local business and parking spaces for 537 cars and 110 bicycles.
Case study - KVKL