POP-UP Parking Aims to Revolutionize Climate Adaptation in Major Cities

Published on November 23, 2017 | by Archipreneur
POP-UP by architectural office THIRD NATURE
POP-UP by architectural office THIRD NATURE | © THIRD NATURE
Welcome to our projects series where we present benchmarks of urban living – self developed by architects and creative city makers. This week we want to present you POP-UP by architectural office THIRD NATURE.

Flooding, parking and lack of green spaces are only few challenges our cities face. And with the climate change we are likely to face growing numbers of cloudbursts. The young Danish architectural office THIRD NATURE, founded by Ole Schrøder and Flemming Rafn Thomsen in 2012, aims to adapt cities to the consequences of climate changes.

By stacking water reservoir, parking facility and urban space, the project POP-UP solves three challenges at once. As heavy rain falls, storm water fills the underground reservoir and the parking structure will pop up in the cityscape, highlighting the adaption to the forces of nature. THIRD NATURE has exemplified POP-UP in St. John’s Park in New York.

“With POP-UP, we have a humane response to man-made problems, that by combining multiple challenges in one overall solution shows the world how climate adaptation, mobility and urban development do not have to be each other’s opposites in the viable cities of the future.”

– says Ole Schrøder, partner in THIRD NATURE.

Climate challenges force many cities to establish large and very expensive water reservoirs under existing roads and squares. With POP-UP, THIRD NATURE wants to create added value by making use of the expensive reservoirs and establishing underground parking facilities, with urban spaces or public features on top.

On a normal day, the water reservoir below the car park will be empty and the parking structure will function as any other underground parking facility with access via a ramp on ground level.
On a normal day, the water reservoir below the car park will be empty and the parking structure will function as any other underground parking facility with access via a ramp on ground level. | © THIRD NATURE
POP-UP by architectural office THIRD NATURE on a normal rainy day
In the case of heavy rain, the reservoir will start to fill and the parking structure will lift up in the cityscape like a cork in a glass of water. | © THIRD NATURE

The round shape of the parking facility and the water reservoir makes the parking facility lighter and thus helps the buoyancy. The spiral-shaped ramp of the parking facility makes it possible to drive to and from the parking facility on ground level, regardless of the water level in the water reservoir.

POP-UP by architectural office THIRD NATURE after the rain
Once the sewage system subsequently has the capacity to handle the rainwater, the water calmly flows out and the parking lot lowers. | © THIRD NATURE

“POP-UP is an example of a radical thinking, where design and complex engineering is applied to face challenges imposed by climate change and the need for sustainable urban living,” says Tommy Olsen, Project Director at COWI, one of the engineering firm that has contributed to the project with structural modeling and economic calculations.

Instead of constructing a rainwater reservoir that will be empty 99% of the time, a monofunctional parking facility – often too expensive to build underground where it does not occupy space, and an active urban space fighting for m2 in the dense cities, THIRD NATURE suggests POP-UP. A climatic, vibrant and innovative solution that meets all three needs in one solution, which makes it an attractive solution in an overall economic perspective.

The public park of POP-UP by architectural office THIRD NATURE
Cityplaning is not just about making more parks, parking spaces or buildings, but looking at the qualities of the places in the city, where we stay, move and live. | © THIRD NATURE

“Cities are in extreme situations where billions need to be spent on climate mitigation solutions and the equivalent amount on handling densification of the cities, especially the conflict between cars and urban spaces, so for us it is natural to think of the solutions together,” says Flemming Raft Thomsen, partner at THIRD NATURE.

POP-UP by architectural office THIRD NATURE

In September 2015, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the City of Copenhagen’s Technical and Environmental Administration signed a cooperation agreement to develop innovative climate adaptation solutions. THIRD NATURE, together with engineering firms COWI and RAMBØLL, have participated in a number of workshops in New York, with the aim of developing scalable solutions based on experiences from Copenhagen’s climate adaptations.

POP-UP has the inherent potential to be scaled and adapted to other big cities facing similar issues of climate adaptation and parking challenges. The project has been developed and refined for locations in Copenhagen and St. John’s Park in New York (where the illustrations are from).

POP-UP can therefore contribute to the development of a compact metropolitan area based on a decentralized and design-integrated climate adaptation strategy. The co-operation between THIRD NATURE, COWI and RAMBØLL shows how design and climate adaptation can be integrated into a strong business case, with optimized investments that make space for more buildings and attractive urban spaces.


St. John’s Park, New York City, USA

Project Data:

  • Architect: THIRD NATURE
  • Engineering Firms: COWI and RAMBØLL

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