On an unassuming lot in downtown Calgary, Alberta, 9th Avenue Parkade’s open structure and flexible aluminum cladding hint at the building’s ability to adapt to a range of urban possibilities. Designed by Winnipeg, Manitoba–based 5468796 Architecture in collaboration with Kasian Architecture, Interior Design and Planning, the six-story garage was commissioned by the city to free up nearby parking lots for development, but its brief mandated that its design be flexible enough to accommodate a variety of uses, depending on future needs. “In my mind, the project is a working system rather than an aesthetic statement on the street,” says 5468796 principal Sasa Radulovic.
The ground level of the 9th Avenue Parkade. Image © James Brittain Photography
The structure, which currently holds 510 parking spaces and two stories of office space for a local entrepreneurial hub, with a basketball court, a café, and an exhibition space at the ground level, can easily be converted to office, light-industrial, or residential use. The gentle grade of the sloping floor plates can be leveled with surface topping, making them appropriate for a host of alternate programs. And the aluminum cladding or “guard shroud,” as the designers call it, is made mutable by an enveloping fine-grained mesh, so it can be reconfigured for window and balcony additions for residential or commercial use. “The shroud is an extrusion that acts both as a guard and as a shape definer of the building itself,” says Radulovic. “In part, it’s supposed to bring the scale of the building down to that of the pedestrian, so it doesn’t feel imposing or untouchable.”