Cars are wonderful things. They take us places, they bring us joy, they're arguably one of the most important consumer technologies of the last 150 years. Parking garages, on the other hand, are more like a necessary evil. Which is why these designers are trying to make them a little more pleasant to be around.

In an open competition held by the design challenge group Combo Competitions, dozens of architects, designers, and students proposed ways to give the average garage a second life. It's not an intuitive idea. For most of us, a great parking garage means one that makes it as easy as possible to leave very quickly. On the other hand, high-design parking garages have become a trend: Just look at 1111 Lincoln Road in Miami. This parking tower is now a hotspot for parties, weddings, fashion shows, and concerts.


Check out the winners and honorees below and decide for yourself—and head over the their website to check out the current in-progress competitions.

A Drive-In Movie Garage

Drive-in movie theaters are a dying breed in America. According to the designers behind this proposal, Will Fu and Logan Steele, it need not be. Rather than becoming a darkened husk at night, devoid of activity, their 252-vehicle garage would become a multi-screen drive-in theater.

"Boasting two main screens and a host of secondary screens ranging from one to three floors in height, Highline Cinemas is sure to become a hub of the night-life scene in a quickly developing region of the city," the duo say.

A Park With Parking

You could describe the winning proposal, designed by Jonathan Benner and John Bassett, as the Grand Central Station of parking garages.

It doesn't just spit people out into an elevator. Instead, once you've parked, you're whisked away from the rows of cars and into two sweeping circular ramps—which draw light and air down from the roof into two double ramps:

Up top, there's a roof garden.

While the cars themselves are relegated to an external ramp that rings the two circular footpaths:

"We intended this space to be as generous and grand as possible to counter the predominant parking garage layout which isolates the stair core in a tight, dark corner of the garage," explain the duo. "In this way, the path down or up is as exalted as the gateway spaces of the turn of the last century."

Park Your Soul In Heaven

Wanting to be laid to rest in a parking garage sounds like something straight out of a David Lynch movie. But the more you consider this proposal by Pedro Martins, Ana Santos and Miguel Pereira, the more sense it makes.

As cars made it possible for cities to bloom larger than ever, they pushed cemeteries out into the suburbs. But Baby Boomers are moving back into the city faster than ever, and soon, they'll be dying here—and there's no solution for where to bury them, as The New York Times explained last year:

There are four indisputable facts creating a quandary about the disposition of human remains: a rapidly increasing population, urbanization, a finite amount of land and the certainty of death. Every year, globally, more people migrate to cities and live in increasingly close quarters, which creates a premium on finite land. This premium on real estate often makes the use of land for the interment of the dead inefficient, if not wasteful.

This trio's solution? Build a vertical cemetery on top of a parking structure. It's not as insane as it sounds—vertical cemeteries are increasingly common throughout the world, and by stacking one atop another building, it elevates the space from the bustle of city life.


This proposal, designed by Manson Fung, is all about efficiency: A densely-packed steel skeleton, left open to the light and air, are accessed by a robotic parking system. The empty or extra spots are rented out—perhaps as storage, perhaps as a chicken coop, perhaps as a greenhouse.

Check out the rest of the winners over on Bustler.