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Munich Is Building Affordable Housing Atop Parking Lots

A new plan for low-rent apartments takes advantage of all that unused space devoted to cars.
New housing in Schwabing, Munich.
New housing in Schwabing, Munich.Flickr/digital cat

In Munich, the days when parking space was allowed to gobble up large chunks of city land may be ending. Like most thriving Western metros, Germany’s third-largest city is desperate for new housing but doesn’t have a whole lot of undeveloped space left. The answer, say Munich’s governing Social Democrats, is to build above parking lots, burying the city’s land-hogging car spaces under buildings filled with affordable housing.

This is the sort of bright idea many cities might float without necessarily taking action, but Munich is putting some of its money where its mouth is. This month, the city announced a plan to build a 120-unit apartment complex atop a swimming pool parking lot. It’s not just the location that’s innovative. Instead of a standard steel frame, the new building’s four floors will be built using wood. Thanks to substantial off-site prefabrication, the building could be ready for tenants as early as Christmas.