How to design a car parking: the complete technical guide

How to design a car park: the complete technical guide

How to design a car park: an interesting example of a car parking design project with DWG CAD drawings ready for download

In this week’s post, we’ll be exploring how to design a car park. Starting off from the definition, we will then be taking a look at a car parking main features and provide a practical example of rendering together with DWG CAD drawings produced with an architectural BIM design software.

Below you can download the project file immediately and the trial version of Edificius, the 3D building design software.



Car parking design


Download the 3D BIM (file .edf) of the project

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You can browse through the model without having to install any additional software.





Definition and types of car parks

A car park is a specifically designed space for all the road users in the way that they can safely park their vehicles. Therefore, it’s a place, a space or an area dedicated to vehicle parking.

The main scope of a car parks is to safeguard of public order and urban decor but also to avoid disorderly and random parking that would definitely cause roadblocks and traffic congestion.

Car parks can be considered as an integral part of the urban mobility system: the fluidity of circulation is heavily influenced by parking conditions.



This article covers the fundamental design aspects but first of all, let’s start off by understanding the distinctions between the various types. Parking garages are also called car parks, parking structures, parking buildings, parking ramps, parkades or parking decks but the following represent the main differences:

  • Single level parking garage: A single level parking garage is a parking garage that only has only one floor with manouvering carried out by the driver
  • Multilevel or multi-storey parking garage: Multilevel or multi-storey parking garages are parking garages that have multiple floors to park at. The design of a multilevel parking garage can be very different. The most common design is a garage with ramps to move from one level to another. Less common are parking garages that use lifts to go from level to level. Then there are also parking garages with robotic systems that move cars from one level to another. The floors of the parking garage can either go up, down or both
  • Underground parking garage: An underground parking garage has levels below the surface and none above ground. Most often underground parking garages are located in city centers where there’s not much space available to build a parking facility
  • Automated parking garage: The car park operates as followed: You drive your car onto a platform in the garage. Then the automated parking system will move your car to the available parking space somewhere in the tower. The cars can be moved vertically and horizontally with the use of hydraulic or mechanical lifts. There are several benefits to a multilevel parking facility with an automated parking system. For example you can stack more cars in a compact space because the cars are parked by robots. Also parking spaces can be smaller because no one needs to get in or out of the vehicle and people don’t park it themselves; the robotic system doesn’t need as much space to park a car than a human does
  • Carports: Carports are usually located on people’s driveways next to their house. These carports are covered places where one or more cars can be stalled. They are private property that comes with the house. Car ports do not have four walls: Normally they only have one or two walls and sometimes they are attached to a wall of the house it belongs to. Car ports offer protection from bad weather conditions like rain and snow.


Download the project’s Area view here

Architectural classification of car parks

Car parks are classified in relation to their architectural shape in:

  • Covered – located in closed areas or in the basement of a building hosting both cars and motorcycles
  • Outdoor  – external car parks have a single floor designed for vehicle parking and manouvering. One of the characteristics that must be addressed with attention is its integration with the surrounding environment and landscape.

Car parks can also be categorised according to their function in relation with the urban context and with traffic circulation. We can in fact distinguish:

  • Terminal parking, used for long parking periods
  • Exchange parking, structures pushed to the margins of the urban centre functioning as exchange nodes
  • Rotation parking, mainly for short period parking

Buildings used as car parks can also be sub-categorised in relationship to their shape and size:

  • Horizontal development (surface parking)
  • Vertical development (underground parking, in elevation or both)

We distinguish between the car parks with vertical development:

  • Ramp garages
  • Mechanical workshops or parking garages.


Download the car parking Isometric cut-aways

The horizontal development car park is surely the cheapest both from the cost, build and maintenance point of view but loses its convenience from an area exploitation point of view.

The construction of underground car parks,on the other hand, even though justified by the exploitation of the surface area, will have higher construction’s costs: not only for the necessary excavation works but also for the waterproofing works that considerably increase construction costs.

Underground car parks are essential when needing to preserve the urban surface configuration: they allow to optimise the offical accomodation of roads, squares and green areas.

Vertical development car parks are probably the most rational solution among Car Parking facilities because it optimises area usage, contains costs but needs appropriate design studies to fit into the urban environment appropriately.

Parking infrastructures: design parameters

The basic sizing of spaces dedicated to vehicle parking must start from the overall average dimensions of a car and its necessary operative spaces.

  • The average-size of a european car is 4.50 metres in length and 1.80 in width. The European Union reference size for a car is assumed to be 5 metres of length by 2.50 in width. These same parameters are also valid in Switzerland.
  • The United Kingdom is slightly smaller with a minimum of 2,40 x 4,80 metres.
  • In Canada, we have a minimum vehicle size parameter of 2,60 x 5,20 metres.
  • The United States have an average vehicle parameter size set to 18ft x 96inches (5,48 x 2,44 metres), even if there are variations in some states.

Download the Vehicle dimension scheme here

In Europe, Canada and in the United States, parking areas, auto-workshops or similar, lane widths range between 4,80 and 5,00 metres in those sections in front of the box or the parking space orthogonal to the lane, but good practice standards (given the tendency to increase the dimensions of vehicles) increase these dimensions by 0,50-1,00 metres.

Then we have the parking “tilt angle” in relation to the access lanes. In fact, we have:

  • 0° (parking in line, parallel to the lane direction) – the most widely used configuration in urban environments.


Download the “Line parking” scheme here – available in the DWG CAD file format

  • 90° (the perpendicular or “comb” layout – perpendicular to the access lanes) – most appropriate when there are two parking sides served by a central access lane.


Download the “Perpendicular” scheme here – available in the DWG CAD file format

In addition, the angle scheme or “herring bone” layout ranging from 30°, 45° or 60° are sloped according to different angles in relatioon to the access lane:

  • 30° mostly used when the access lane is very tight


30°- angle-scheme-parking


Download a  30° Angle Scheme layout in the DWG CAD file format

  • 45° is used mainly in mechanical workshops


45°- angle-scheme-parking


60°- angle-scheme-parking

Download a 60° Angle Scheme layout in the DWG CAD file format

These distinctions implicate the possibility of varying the car park’s plan view in order to save space and optimise vehicle manaouvering.

Car park space optimisation

Here are the main differences between the categories listed above for a certain number of parking spaces according to:

  • The total parking size: the cheapest parking design solution is the perpendicular or comb type layout followed by the in line parking which can increment parking spaces by up to 25%. The angle parking layouts have a percentage difference of around 10% between them and occupy less space as the angle of inclination is increases in comparison to the access lane;
  • Manouvering Speed and facility: in other terms this takes into account the ease of entering and exiting a parking space. Various studies have underlined that the perpendicular layout is the most problematic from a manouverability point of view and therefore the most functional parking configuartion is the Angle parking scheme or “herring bone” layout.

It is often useful to keep in mind a fundamental element for the correct planning of a parking facility: the space necessary for vehicle circulation throughout the parking levels. It goes without saying that the best level of efficiency is reached when the access lanes allow vehicles to be driven directly into an angled parking space.



Download the Project Plan views in the DWG CAD file format

Parking spaces for the disabled

Car parks must also provide easily accessible parking spaces for the disabled.

For example in the United States, one parking space every 25 must be guaranteed for people with disabilities. In France and in It aly the ratio is set to one for every 50 parking spots.

Extra lateral spacing must be provided to ensure that the vehicle doors can be comfortably opened by passengers on either side.



Download the project elevation views in the DWG CAD file format

A multy-storey car park: Les Yeux Verts



The project that we have reproduced for this article is a particular project that is based on a multy-storey car park realized in France, in Soissons, near the famous Abbey of Saint Jean-de-la-Vigne from the Jacques Ferrier Architectural firm.



Download the axonometric views in the DWG file format

The building can accomodate up to 600 car parking spots and develops across a surface of around 13.200m². It is composed of a concrete and galvanized steel structure and is lined in vertical spruce wood columns that, varied in angle and spacing, create a chain effect.

The wooden facade is scattered with eye-shaped openings that offer a view on the city and behind them plants form roof gardens (here are les yeux verts “the green eyes”). From the outside, these “green eyes” open to disclose roof gardens that disseminate gently in the surrounding facade.



Small visual changes are been created by adjusting the angling of thin plates that offset the pine columns from the facade alternating solids and voids and incorporating light and transparencies throughout the construction.



These elements create dynamic and vivacious facades that give a strong image into the urban network of the city.



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