Carpark Café

For a while now I’ve been flirting with the idea of designing, building and managing a pop-up café at the top of a multistorey carpark in Cork City. I’ve been looking to do a self-initiated project for some time, but this idea in particular came after visiting a similar set-up in Pakenham, London with some friends in June 2011. I’m going to do some preliminary feasibility study work which I’ll record on here, just to try and get some momentum up.

There are four multistorey carparks in Cork city centre. among these, there is a variation in hourly rates and opening times that will influence the site choice. I’m going to have to open a dialogue with the carparks’ management teams soon to find out if a temporary café pavilion is something they would be willing to permit, or if their premises insurance will allow it.

Among these four sites I’m leaning towards the North Main Street (North West) site, as I know from earlier research that They close to parking business at 6:30 every evening, and their hourly rate is the lowest at €1.70 per hour. I drove to the top floor to check out the view, and was pleasantly suprised. Unlike the Paul Street (Centre North) site there is no visual obstruction, meaning a café here would enjoy panoramic views of the Shandon Bells and the surrounding historic townscape. The picture below suggests this view from street level, but unfortunately I never took photos from the top during my last visit.

If a pop-up café were to go ahead, there are obvious sums to be done on construction costs, rental costs, projected revenue, staff requirements, and so on. There is also the actual design of the café to be considered. these will all be covered in future posts, but I take heart from the success of similar projects such as the carpark bar I attended in June, and the recent ‘Folly for a Flyover’ project found here. That project in particular shows how far a project like this could go.

My first thoughts on the design of the Carpark Café lean towards construction using found or recycled materials to cut cost – The pallet-based projects such as those by the University of Vienna and I-Beam are inspirations here.

There’s going to have to be shelter from rain, implying a roof or canopy, and a recognisable bar area, with secure areas for stock. The seating area must be dry, reasonably comfortable but open enough to get the views out, and finally the fixed footprint must be small as possible to use fewer parking spaces, assuming this would reduce rent. this suggests an expandable structure or canopy, and loose furniture that can be distributed over the full area after the carpark ceases admitting cars for the night.

If I decide to go ahead, I’ll be aiming to open at the beginning of next Summer, but there’s a thousand things to do before then. More to follow.

Karl

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