As an online booking system that allows homeowners to rent out their unused driveways to perpetually circling motorists in need of a convenient spot to park continues to increase in popularity, San Francisco-based designer Aaron Cheng has concocted a fascinating, not entirely dissimilar vision that also utilizes vacant parking spots: a magically morphing structure that acts as a car park during the day and transforms, via a nifty pneumatic compression system, into a teeny-tiny urban apartment at night.

Dubbed Parking + Housing, Cheng’s space-saving parking/housing concept is an entrant in this year’s students-only James Dyson Award design competition and has been garnering a fair amount of attention over the past few days. And rightfully so, as you don’t hear of too many “space utilization problem”-solving studio apartments that convert, or are compressed, rather, into parking spaces during the daylight hours with the assistance of inflatable ETFE skins.

Cheng elaborates on the inspiration behind Parking + Housing on the James Dyson Award website:

Limited spaces with ever growing population in major metropolises like New York significantly lower people’s standard of living. One of the main issues with these cities is the poor utilization of certain spaces. Parking garages, for example, are occupied during daytime while emptied at night time. Apartments, which are empty during daytime, suffer from the same usage efficiency problem.
He explains further to Jordan Kushins over at Co.Design:
The project is designed for single young people, like those who just graduated from school. Normally they have regular work schedules and social lives, and the home to them is merely a place for sleeping; what they care is good location to the downtown area and relatively cheap rent.
Parking + Housing is no doubt a clever attempt at utilizing available space in congested urban areas, but the whole set-up lends itself to be a potential logistical headache. Let’s say you call in sick for work or, ugh, get laid off — where does the commuter that parks every day in your transformative apartment end up going? Or, reversely, what happens when said commuter ends up working late and you come home, exhausted and ready to collapse, but are unable to inflate your digs with a hand pump (!) because there’s a car parked all up in there? And god forbid the apartment’s resident ultimately decides to purchase their own car — where would it go at night? I supposed you’d have to find a neighbor in the same parking garage-cum-apartment complex that works the overnight shift and play swapsies on a daily basis.

I'm all for routine and coordination, but for Parking + Housing to truly work as a viable housing solution it appears that there'd be little to no room for deviation from an established schedule. Plus, there's the issue of fumes. I suppose that for now, Vanilla Ice's vision of auto-centric living seems a touch more feasible (first time I thought I'd ever write those words).

More on Cheng's intriguing, mighty imaginative concept over at the James Dyson Award homepage where you can also check out the rest of the entries in the running for this year’s prize that range from Braille smart phone cases to biodegradable frames for protest signs to electrical sockets geared for folks suffering Rheumatoid Arthritis. The challenge of this year’s competition: “Design something that solves a problem.” 

Would you ever live in a studio apartment that doubles as a parking space during the day?

[Via Co.Design]

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