A very short little note about a diagram we made yesterday. The fuller story is over at Helsinki Design Lab, which notes how my interest in The Shard tower in London was piqued by Bryan tweeting about the incredibly low parking rates they've achieved on that project. There are 87 floors, 72 of which are habitable, and only 47 car parking spaces (apparently mainly for disabled people, according to the project's lead architect Renzo Piano.)
Working on very different developments here in Helsinki, on one of the city's primary strategic sustainable urban development sites, we know the city's parking directives can easily lead to a situation where you have a building with seven floors (we say "storey" in English, Americans (others?) say "stories", so I'm settling on "floors") generating a requirement for 120 parking places. Here, this usually has to go in a basement, which is good in terms of hiding the problem but very expensive to build (one of the more capital-intensive aspects, actually, which means you have less capital to spend on other, potentially more innovative or productive, aspects.)
The Shard's is an amazing result, and one apparently directed by then-Mayor Ken Livingstone. This also great to see—strong public governance shaping a strong outcome. Also rare to see, particularly in this game, where public officials are often more conservative and risk averse than their constituencies—based partly on misreading their constituents, due to lack of meaningful engagement, and based partly on cautiousness driven by the need to get re-elected—and through property developers who usually (with some exceptions) are never happier than when they can do what they did previously, and never unhappier than when they are being asked to do something differently.
As I noted in a conversation that ensued on Twitter, I recall a major "sustainable development" in Sydney where the property developer's project manager for mobility had never actually been on public transport. This gives a sense of the industry we're dealing with here.
In the light of this absurdity, a little diagram immediately came to mind, comparing the size of the buildings and the volume of parking. Here's the first scribble on the whiteboard. Simple comparison of scale versus volume. (The top of the Shard wriggles because that's about 8 feet up the whiteboard and I couldn't reach!)