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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Birmingham Car Parks

OK, I know you're thinking really? Car Parks?


Multi storey car parks have always fascinated me architecturally. What is equally fascinating, is that to most people they are completely invisible. Most people never look at them, because they are mundane and functional, just something you use for a purpose, maybe every day, maybe just occasionally, like a fridge or washing machine.


To me they have an awesome presence in their scale and if designed well, yes, a graphic abstract beauty. When I drive into one I am looking at the entire structure in three dimensions imagining what went into its design and planning, how it works, and sometimes how you see the mind behind its design, the mind of someone who cared enough to make small unnecessary details that add to its beauty.


If I go to a city to take photographs, I check out it's car parks first, both for convenience and practical reasons, but also for the photo opportunity, and I nearly always head straight for the roof. Multi storey car parks for me don't just provide somewhere to leave my car they are a subject in themselves but they are also a massive viewing platform for the whole city skyline.


I hope these photos give you an insight into what I see when I see a car park. An additional concern is that they are part of our architectural heritage just as much as a cathedral is, and these car parks are disappearing fast, so if these photos open some more eyes into their importance, maybe some of the better examples will survive.

This is one of my Birmingham favourites, what used to be called Dale End Car Park. I know it is scheduled for demolition and may even be gone by now. I discovered it after it became endangered but was under reprieve due to the financial collapse of 2008. I have taken many photos of this one as it is going to disappear and it really is an amazing unique structure. I will be doing a separate post on it.


What did I mean about the mind of the designer? Just look at these beautiful brick faced curved corners. Ask yourself, did they need to bother? No, they didn't. This would have added to the cost and would have been far more complicated to achieve than a bare concrete square corner. You will get more of an idea about this one when I do the separate post.


Ellis Street Car Park. This one is just outside the city centre and I stumbled on it by accident. It is very plain but elegant in it's simplicity. It has a functional beauty.











ParkBee APCOA China Town.


Paradise Car Park.










St. Judes Car Park.






Londonderry House.





Moat Lane Car Park.






Snow Hill Station Car Park











Moor Street Car Park








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6 Comments


Chucks Digital Photography
Chucks Digital Photography
Aug 23, 2022

Brings back a lot of memories of the parking garages when I lived in New York. The endless curving of exits and entrances of those huge structures. Love the images, angles, textures and colors! By the way, I never did scratch the car on one of those ramps!

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Gethin Thomas
Gethin Thomas
Aug 23, 2022
Replying to

They are always the signature of a city for me. They always seem to have to draw a fine line between blending in and making a statement.

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John Durham
John Durham
Aug 21, 2022

I, too, am fascinated by, as we call them, parking lots, mainly because I have had a hand in building them from the ground up. The design and engineering fascinate me. But these that you have captured show what a little imagination can do to such a drab and mundane piece of architecture, and you have done it so well. I wish we had more like them here in the states.

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Gethin Thomas
Gethin Thomas
Aug 21, 2022
Replying to

Thanks John.

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Unknown member
Aug 20, 2022

I believe what makes this post interesting is not the car parks on their own, but rather the angle and the perspective you have taken in showing them off. You have the eye to look at the mundane and make them beautiful :)

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Gethin Thomas
Gethin Thomas
Aug 20, 2022
Replying to

Thank you, although I still hold that there is beauty in them or I couldn't show it.😊

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