It seems that unadorned multi-storey car parks have gone out of fashion. Not that they were ever something that could be described as ‘fashionable’. But at least the simple construction of a series of floors, plainly open to the elements, was unpretentious and offer scope for some styling. Looking down Islington Street three such car parks from the 1960s and 1970s are visible. They’re not pretty, but they are functional, with Islington Street Car Park and the Menzies Hotel quite well matched in their brickwork.
Now for the first stage of Muse’s Union Square development something far less simple has been proposed to replace — on a different site — Carfax Street Car Park: a car park encased in aluminium and terracotta ‘fins’. According to the architects, this freak of architecture has
a language for the building where the whole was greater than the sum of the individual parts…. The façade design balances the practical requirement of allowing natural ventilation through the building and creating a striking visual appeal to the building.
Only in the mind of an architect could an overgrown fence be thought of as having ‘a striking visual appeal’.
In comparison with that, the block of 45 flats to be built nearby are almost stylish. And in the artist’s impression of the flats they felt obliged to hide the car park behind some trees!