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Parking Shed, The
Thesen Island, Knysna, Western Cape

Michael P (Mike) LOUW: Design Architect
Michael P (Mike) LOUW: Project Architect

Type:Parking Garage


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34°02'52.25" S 23°02'53.79" E Alt: 4m

The Parking Shed is situated on Thesen Islands in Knysna. This is on the site of the former Thesen Sawmill, which has been developed into a large residential estate with a smaller commercial core.

A number of the old industrial structures have been retained for adaptive re-use and the Parking Shed is one of these. The building used to be the factory's Peeling Plant where timber from the surrounding forests was processed into laminates.

The entire existing structural framework was kept in place and has been restored. The structure was given a new skin and three new concrete floors were inserted into the building envelope in order to provide parking space for 224 cars.

Considerable effort was put into re-using and recycling existing materials: All of the existing steel and much of the existing cladding has been retained and re-used, the old airvents were repaired and re-used, timber from the demolished drying yards was used for bumper rails and the crushed concrete of some of the old machinery footings has been used for backfill.

Energy use is minimized by the use of openings and vents. The new shaded openings and translucent roof sheeting allows for sufficient natural lighting; these openings together with the re-used natural ventilators and louvred panels in the foyers provide for natural ventilation and all the rainwater is harvested and fed into a freshwater pond where local birdlife proliferates.

Besides providing parking for the commercial core, the Shed's top floor has also been used for all the premier events on Knysna's tourism calendar, like the Knysna Oyster Festival and Gastronomica.

The building has been carefully integrated with its surroundings and the urban framework. The existing envelope has been retained for the most part, while the elevations have been articulated in a way that brings the building's considerable scale down to be in proportion with its surroundings. The entrances act as focal points on the termination points of the pedestrian and vehicular routes and the building itself has become a focal point in the social life of the town.

(Mike Louw - April 2013)

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.