Call it a garage, a parking lot or a car park. Just don’t call it a one-trick pony. The spots where you’d traditionally ditch your wheels have taken on new lives as bars, gardens and cinemas – and they’re everywhere from London to Berlin to Melbourne.
London, in particular, has a soft spot for reimagining these usually-unprepossessing spaces: Hearn Street Car Park and Ewer Street Car Park were infamous rave spots for years; our very own Soho Hotel is housed in a converted car park; London Fashion Week 2016 took over Brewer Street Car Park, often used for exhibitions and events.
Here, we’ve picked five of our favourite places where parking is the last thing on your mind…
Rooftop Cinema Club, London
The outside-cinema dons at Rooftop Film Club – which also has residencies at Yotel in New York and the Montalban Theatre in Los Angeles – count Roof East, an East London car park among their madcap screening locations. Sip film-themed cocktails and nibble on street food while you watch the movie; if it starts raining (this is London), you’ll be given a free waterproof poncho. Note: if you like your films with a side of car park, look out for Drive In Film Club, held in Alexandra Palace’s Pavilion Car Park.
Klunkerkranich Project, Berlin
The car park of the Neukölln Arkaden building has hosted more than its fair share of relatively secret raves (when in Berlin…), but it also had a squeaky-clean summertime makeover, spanning a garden, bar and rooftop chill-out space. Unlike other car-park drinking holes, the guys behind the Klunkerkranich Project bothered to decorate the space with love, wood and greenery. If the city’s eye-popping clubs aren’t beckoning too wildly, head back to Das Stue for dinner.
Urban Food Fest, London
Dingy Shoreditch car park; brioche buns stuffed with pulled pork; appreciative beards with bicycles: Urban Food Fest is a hipster’s heaven come true. Get down to Euro Car Parks to sample Venezuelan beef arepas (maize flatbreads), hand-made pasta, chorizo wraps, Belgian waffles, craft beer and much, much more. The market is held every Saturday from now until 17 December, midday–midnight. If you’re hungry for more car-park munching, check out Storeys, a street food fest held in the former car park of the BBC building in White City, west London.
Pop-up Patch, Melbourne
In an effort to encourage Melburnians to eat (and grow) more fruit and veg, Melbourne has turned Fed Square’s car park rooftop into a vibrant veggie garden, with help from the Little Veggie Patch Co. The ‘Patch’ is quite a lot more than that: 140-plus veggie plots housed in recycled apple crates, most of which are leased to the public. The restaurants and cafes at Fed Square each have their own plot, where they grow fresh ingredients for their dishes. Need a few green-fingered tips? Check out the community demonstration veggie garden, shop and information centre, in what will be Melbourne’s biggest community garden.
Frank’s Cafe, London
South London’s pearl is Peckham, currently rivalling Shoreditch as the city’s coolest ’hood, thanks to multi-purpose, multi-storey community spaces such as the Bussey Building; critic-pleasing restaurants such as Peckham Bazaar and Begging Bowl; amazing bars by the arches (Bar Story and Peckham Springs); brilliantly dingy dive bars (Canavan’s Pool Club) and enticing pop-ups such as Brick Brewery Tap Room. Frank’s Cafe is one of Peckham’s worst-kept secrets and best-loved bars. Along with 360-degree views, its charms include delicious shared plates – burned onion with curd and pomegranate, sardines with pickled peppers and the ilk – and cheap, Campari-focussed cocktails. Summer in south London: sorted.
Featured Image via Facebook/Projekt Klunkerkranich