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World's coolest car parks
  • A former theatre and office building in downtown Detroit, the Michigan Building dates back to 1925. It closed as a theatre in 1976 and became a nightclub. When this closed too, the office tenants threatened to leave unless there was adequate parking, so the building owners converted the beautiful theatre into a car park and kept its ornate plaster ceiling, grand lobby and balcony foyers intact. The theatre also happens to have been built on the site of the tiny garage where Henry Ford built his first car. Image: Bob Jagendorf (used under Creative Commons license)

  • Known by locals as the 'cheese grater', Charles Street Car Park in Sheffield was designed by Allies and Morrison Architects on the site of an old Yorkshire Grey pub. The building has identical panels angled in various directions to give it a unique look and has a capacity of 520 parking spaces spread over ten floors. At first glance it appears as an apartment block when the jagged cubed building is in fact the most modern, cutting-edge car park in the area.

  • This car park in Lyon won the award for Europe's most remarkable car park renovation in 1996, after the designer succeeded in getting light into the car park which goes far underground. The central core of the car park is a light well lit from the street above and a vast mirror sits at the base of the well, rotating and reflecting light around the seven levels. The ground level has a periscope which allows passers-by to view the cavernous space below.

  • Built to help revitalise Vancouver’s downtown district and constructed from a former department store, Cordova Parkade cost an incredible £17.2 million to complete. Its design incorporates pieces of old Vancouver bridges with an exterior screen of latticed granite and steel, which was inspired by 19th-century train stations.

  • This design masterpiece is a unique and striking landmark in Miami and was described by its designers Herzog & de Meuron as "the most radical work they had ever done". 1111 Lincoln Road resembles a house of cards and offers panoramic views of the South Beach area - not bad for a place to leave the car, eh? The open-air structure with no exterior walls features varying floor heights and has even become a go-to structure for architects and photographers looking for inspiration.

  • Designed by Teresa Sapey Estudio, Car Park Plaza in Valencia is all about colour and fun, with sustainability and functionality in mind. Graphics cover the wall and portray various parts of the city while indicating the route and the time it takes you to walk there (blue represents water, red is for the cultural spaces and orange reflects leisure activities). Low-energy neon lights trace arrows to guide drivers and a picture of a descent downstairs created with LED lights marks the pedestrian access.

  • Dutch architect Paul de Ruiter's Veranda car park in Rotterdam features sloping runways in the middle of a trapezium-shaped floor plan, meaning cars can move in a spiral upwards or downwards around the centre. The facade was composed of horizontal strips of aluminium, alternated with small strips of mirror glass and from the inside it acts as a diffuse screen admitting daylight and providing a fragmented view of the outside world.

  • Birmingham's glow-in-the-dark car park has been named one of the coolest in the world. The multi-storey Millennium Point car park glows blue in the night (perfect if you've lost your way and can't find your parking spot!) and its cuboid structure is one of many in the city built in the Brutalist style of architecture, such as Birmingham Central Library. The design team, Birmingham City Council's in-house Urban Design, used special acrylic panels to create the 'light cube' effect, which also won it Best New Car Park at the British Parking Awards.

  • Covered by lush greenery to help hide the concrete exterior and allow it to blend into the surrounding landscape, Miami's Ballet Valet Parking Garage was completed in 1996 and was the first new building in Miami Beach's Art Deco District. It uses grid-patterned fibreglass and different types of vines and fauna to create a full block topiary structure between Collins and Washington Avenues.

  • Inspired by Swiss artist Felice Varini's work, Melbourne's Eureka Tower car park displays colourful two and three-dimensional forms. The words 'In', 'Out', 'Up' and 'Down' were printed at key decision-making points of the car park, making the journey more engaging and enjoyable for drivers and creating a car park that stands out from the crowd.