The Institution of Structural Engineers and

The Institution of Highways and Transportation


Design recommendations for multi-storey and underground car parks (2nd edition)

Published by the Institution of Structural Engineers


The Institution of Structural Engineers and

The Institution of Highways and Transportation

Design recommendations for multi-storey and underground car parks (2nd edition)


The Institution of Structural Engineers

Constitution of Joint Committee

D. R. Sharp, OBE, DSc, DipTP(Lond), CEng, FIStructE, FICE, FIMunE, FIHT (Chairman) John Campbell, MCIBS

K. J. C. Clayden, BSc, CEng, FlStructE, FICE, FIHT E. W. Dore, CEng, FlStructE, MICE, MIMunE

A. F. Gee, MA, CEng, FIStructE, FICE, FlMechE, FIHT John Glanville, BSc(Eng), ACGI, CEng, FICE, FIHT

W. E. A. Skinner, CEng, FIStructE, FICE, FHKIE

W. P. Winston, BSc(Tech), CEng, FlCE, FIHT, M ASCE

R. J. W. Milne, BSc (Secretary)

2nd edition published January 1984; reprinted December 1988 with new style cover and title page

© 1984: The Institution of Structural Engineers

This publication is copyright under the Berne Convention and the International Copyright Convention. All rights reserved. Apart from any copying under the UK Copyright Act 1956, part 1, section 7, whereby a single copy of an article may be supplied, under certain conditions, for the purposes of research or private study, by a library of a class prescribed by the UK Board of Trade Regulations (Statutory Instruments, 1957, no. 868), no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior permission of the copyright owners. Permission is not, however, required to copy extracts on conditions that a full reference to the source is shown.

Multiple copying of the contents of the publication without permission contravenes the aforementioned Act.


FOREWORD 5 Parking angle 16
Layout controls 16
GLOSSARY 6 Parking-area layout 16
Ramps 18
1 CLIENT'S BRIEF AND PERFORMANCE Entrances and exits 18
SPECIFICATION 7 Choice of layout 19
1.1 Introduction 7 3.5 Dynamic requirements 19
Scope 7 Procedure 19
Mixed-use structures 7 Traffic demand 19
Limitations imposed by statutory Dynamic capacity 19
requirements and public policy 7 Vehicle speed 19
Design brief 7 Capacities of aisles and stalls 19
1.2 Information to be considered for inclusion Time taken to park, and stall width 20
in the brief 7 Parking angle 20
The aim 7 Ramp capacity 20
The site 7 Accessway and carriageway capacity 20
Site conditions 7 Bends on access way and ramps 20
Highway access 7 Entrance-barrier capacity 20
Statutory undertakers 7 Vehicle reservoir at entrance, and
Re-use 8 entrance layout 21
Submission of the design and costs 8 Exit-barrier capacity 21
1.3 Design considerations 8 Exit capacity 21
Structural 8 Vehicle reservoir at exit 21
Environmental 8 Turnover 23
Town planning 8
Building regulations 8 4 VEHICULAR AND PEDESTRIAN
1.4 Performance specification 8 CONTROL 25
General 8 4.1 Vehicle control 25
Traffic feasibility requirements 8 Introduction 25
Site feasibility requirements 8 Entry control 25
Accommodation and operational requirements 8 Capacity of entry lanes 25
Schedule 8 Control within the car park 25
Choice of solution 9 Signs 26
Vehicle safety barriers 26
2 APPEARANCE AND PLANNING 10 Collection of parking fees 26
Fraud 26
3 DESIGN GEOMETRY Methods of payment 26
12 Control of exit 27
3.1 Introduction 12 Exit capacities 27
3.2 The car 12 4.2 Pedestrian control 27
3.3 Static requirements 13 Introduction 27
Stall width, stall length, aisle width Pedestrian/vehicle conflict 28
and bin width 13 Stair and lift shafts 28
Side clearances on structure 13 Ramps 28
Columns 13 Aisles 28
Height 14 Lifts 28
Floor gradient 14 Disabled persons 29
Ramp and access way gradients 14
Ramp and accessway curvature, widths 5 DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION OF
and clearance on structure 14 CARPARKS 30
Superelevation 14 5.1 Classification of above-ground car parks 30
Kerb height 14 5.2 Materials and methods of construction
Entry and exit arrangements 14 for above-ground car parks 30
3.4 Layout of car parks 15 Materials 30
Principles 15 Concrete construction 30
Cul-de-sac parking 16 Steel construction 30
One- and two-way aisles 16 Composite construction 30 5.3 Constraints in above-ground car parks 30 7 FIRE CONSIDERATIONS 44
Column positions 30 7.1 Fire prevention 44
Loading 30 7.2 Fire resistance 44
5.4 Design solutions for above-ground carparks 30 7.3 Fire detection and extinguishing equipment 44
Precast concrete 30 General 44
In situ concrete 31 Sprinklers 45
Composite construction 31 Automatic fire alarms 45
5.5 Structural discontinuities in above-ground Hand appliances 45
carparks 34 7.4 Means of escape 45
Movement joints (full lateral discontinuity) 34 Governing bodies 45
Foundations 35 Rules for guidance 45
Deflection limits 35
Stability 35
5.6 Cladding 35
Categories of cladding 35 FLOOR FINISHES AND
Fixings 36 MAINTENANCE 47
5.7 Underground car parks 36 8.1 Waterproofing 47
5.8 Design criteria for underground car parks 36 General 47
Geometry and circulation 36 Alternative approaches to waterproofing 47
Fire precautions 36 Concrete deck slabs without waterproof
Smoke precautions and extraction 37 membrane 47
Mechanical services 37 Concrete deck waterproofed by use of a
Noise 37 membrane 48
Drainage 38 Vulnerable details 51
Site investigation 38 Movement joints 51
5.9 Methods of construction and structural 8.2 Drainage 52
design for underground car parks 38 Introduction 52
General 38 The roof 52
Types of car park 38 Intermediate floors 52
Methods of construction 38 8.3 Floor finishes 52
5.10 Landscaping of underground car parks 38 Introduction 52
Design criteria 38 Underground floors 52
Control of moisture conditions 38 Line and level 52
After-care 39 Typical floor specifications 53
Water features 39 Curing concrete floors 54
Cold-weather construction 54
6 LIGHTING, HEATING AND Hot- weather construction 54
VENTILATION 40 Admixtures 54
6.1 Lighting 40 Precautions against snow and ice 54
General 40 Floor hardeners 54
Illumination standards 40 Special surfaces 54
Selection of electrical equipment 8.4 Maintenance of waterproofing and floors 55
(general requirements) 40 Definition of maintenance 55
Choice of luminaires 41 Designer's interest in maintenance 55
Circuit arrangement 41 Cost of ignoring the need for maintenance 55
6.2 Heating 41 Premature failures 55
General 41 Maintenance staff 55
Ramps 41 8.5 Conclusion 55
Roofs 42
Space heating 42
6.3 Ventilation 42
Reasons for ventilation 42 9 CAR PARKS OUTSIDE THE
Natural ventilation 42 UNITED KINGDOM 56
Mechanical ventilation 42
Noise levels 43
General recommendations 43 REFERENCES 57 Foreword

In May 1973 the Institution of Structural Engineers and the Institution of Highway Engineers, as it was then, held a conference in London on the subject of multi-storey and underground car parks, where the emphasis was on design. The information presented at this conference was clearly of considerable value, and the two Institutions therefore appointed a Joint Committee to prepare comprehensive recommendations on design, using the conference proceedings as a starting point. The Committee moved very quickly, and in December 1975 the Joint Report was published by the Institution of Structural Engineers on behalf of the two Institutions.

It was clear from the beginning that the document filled a considerable gap, and it is probably true to say that it became the standard work on the subject in the UK and in many countries overseas, particularly where British designers have influence. The best recommendations date with time, and it was therefore inevitable that the two Institutions should decide that a revision should be undertaken. The result is this report.

The original Committee comprised eight members with the invaluable support of the Assistant Secretary (Technical) of the Institution of Structural Engineers. We were extremely fortunate for the revision in that all the original members of the Joint Committee were available, with one exception, thus ensuring the greatest amount of continuity. Although the original report has stood up well to the passage of time, the opportunity has been taken in the new edition, not only to update the information originally presented, but also to introduce new data and ideas. The Joint Committee welcomes feedback from users of the report.

December 1983

D. R. SHARP, Chairman, lointCommittee



A ccess way



Clearway ramp

Dynamic capacity

Parking angle




Static capacity


Carriageway not adjoining stalls and used solely for the movement of vehicles.

An accessway serving adjoining stalls.

Two rows of stalls with the access aisle running between them. A half-bin is one row of stalls and the aisle serving them.

A ramp system that does not include an aisle in its circulation and which provides unencumbered access between the parking floors and an entrance or exit.

This term may be applied either to the individual parts of a car park or to a car park as a whole. It is the maximum flow of cars, or where appropriate people, which the part of the car park or the car park as a whole as the case may be, can accommodate.

The angle between the length of a stall and the aisle from which it is served.

An accessway or aisle connecting parking areas at different levels. More usually the term is applied to accessways only.

An accessway where cars may queue without obstructing movements in other parts of a car park or the external road system. A reservoir may also be described as a vehicle reservoir.

The parking area, exclusive of aisle or other adjoining area, allocated to one car.

The total number of stalls in a car park.

Client's brief and performance specification


11 Introduction Scope

These notes are designed to assist the client who wishes to commission a design for a car-parking facility either above or below ground and operated on the direct-flow ramp principle. Single-level parking lots are not specifically dealt with; mechanically-operated stacking devices have been excluded. Nevertheless much of the information required for these two latter projects is common to the multi-storey ramped facility. It may well be necessary before a client commissions a detailed design for a separate feasibility study to be undertaken in order to establish requirements to be met for the project to be acceptable.

Mixed-use structures

There may well be situations where a multi-storey car park is to be incorporated in a structure that will have other uses; ancillary services, in particular the sale of petrol, may be envisaged, and these will pose particular design problems. It is necessary to consider these matters in conjunction with the design of the car park itself.

Limitations imposed by statutory requirements and public policy

Car-parking provision is constrained not only by requirements usually affecting the design, construction and equipment of structures of this nature but may also be affected by national and local policies aimed at traffic regulation either through limited provision of parking spaces, by application of the price-tariff mechanism or by other devices. Many of these techniques are presently being developed and are subject to change. It is therefore important that before embarking on any project the client considers current trends before entering into any firm commitment.

Design brief

As in the design of any structure, there must be a certain amount of dialogue between client and designer in the formative stages of the design, and the original brief must be reviewed in the light of feedback from the design team. In this respect it is important to carry out a feasibility study based on a number of sketch designs that fulfil, or as nearly as possible fulfil, the requirements of the performance specification. It may then be found that the benefits arising from variation of certain items in the original brief, such as the boundaries of the site or the position of entrances and exits, are such as to justify their reconsideration. The whole brief should then be reviewed. Since several alternative designs may have to be evaluated, however, it is important to agree with the client at the outset the criteria to be adopted for the selection of the 'best' solution. Clearly this will often, but not necessarily always, be on the basis of cost per car space.

12 Information to be considered for inclusion in the brief

The aim

The aim of the client must be stated explicitly, in particular the purpose to which the car-park building will be put. A car park can be used for a number of separate purposes, or a combination of them, namely:

• a public car park operated as a public service for profit or through a subsidy

• a facility for a specific development where the pattern of use may be expected to remain reasonably constant throughout the day

• a facility for a given activity that will generate high peak demands at given times or lead to the assumption that there may otherwise be special design considerations.

The type of vehicle for which the car park is required to cater should be mentioned if there is likely to be any special requirement because of unusual vehicle dimension.

The site

The brief should contain a full description of the site and its environs, with particular note of the adjacent highway network. The status of land at the time of writing the brief must be disclosed, particularly any restraints imposed by covenant or otherwise on building or access. The brief must clearly state the situation regarding statutory consents and with whom the client expects the responsibility for the progressing of these consents to lie.

Site conditions

All information concerning existing site conditions should be stated, particularly the known subsoil conditions including water table and drainage levels. The arrangements for site clearance and collection of design data relating to ground conditions should be explained.

Highway access

The purpose, layout, and present and future use of the adjacent highway network should be stated since they can affect the viability of the project, the detailed entrance and exit arrangements and the future management policy. Attention should be drawn to any known street improvements proposed, the possibility of them being required in consequence of the car park's construction, or any other matter that will affect the net site area available. The necessity to establish survey levels at an early stage should be emphasised. Attention should also be drawn to the possibility that the street lighting units might be conveniently incorporated in the fascia of the structure where it abuts a public highway.

Statutory undertakers

Any mains, cables, etc. within or adjacent to the site and likely to be affected in any way by the works should be mentioned.



Finally the client should indicate whether consideration should be given at the design stage to the re-use of the car park for other purposes at some time in the future.

Submission of the design and costs

The client must set out the manner in which the completed scheme is to be submitted to him and the time-scale that he requires. It will be for the client to describe the manner in which he wiII expect the details of cost to be presented to him. but the brief will necessarily include all the figures in his possession to enable his wishes to be complied with.

13 Design considerations Structural

The brief should state:

• the preferred material or make clear that the choice is left to the designer

• whether the structure is expected to be wholly above ground, wholly underground or partly above and partly below; the final recommendations may rest with the designer in the light of his investigations, but any over-riding factor affecting his choice must be stated.


The client must state his wishes concerning the finished appearance of the building, drawing attention to any special circumstances known to him that will affect the final choice. Attention should be drawn to any requirement to protect adjacent buildings from noise, dirt or fumes not only from vehicles but also heating, cleaning and ventilating plant.

Town planning

Attention should be drawn to the requirements of the local planning authority, and any documents already in the client's possession should be supplied with the brief. Special planning requirements, particularly in respect of preservation, conservation and redevelopment should be noted.

Building regulations

The client should similarly disclose any exchange of documents concerning the application of the relevant building regulations: he should ask for a clear explanation of any assumptions as to relaxation if the completed design or estimate of cost assumes that these have been or can be obtained.

14 Performance specification General

It is recommended that the performance specification be prepared in three stages:

• traffic feasibility requirements

• site feasibility requirements

• accommodation and operational requirements.

For car parks of less than about 200 stalls capacity the feasibility requirements are commonly reasonably selfevident. In such instances the three stages are usually combined. With larger developments it is recommended that a feasibility study be executed to determine the performance requirements. Large parking developments and, in some instances, medium-sized parking developments may generate high traffic flows, and the need to meet traffic requirements is of primary importance. In such cases it is recommended that a traffic study


be done initially followed by a site study, the two constituting a feasibility study.

A parking development may be associated with another development. In such instances it may be convenient to execute a feasibility study for the development as a whole.

Certain geometric requirements are determined by the feasibility study. In other cases the dimensions given in Section 3 are recommended and may be regarded as common to all car parks; hence they are not included in the performance specification.

Traffic feasibility requirements

Where a separate traffic feasibility study is required it should include the external road system. The traffic study provides the flows required for the site study. The traffic study also identifies key requirements. For example in urban areas with high car-park flows the siting of entrances and exits and their design may be critical. The traffic feasibility study also establishes the capacity (see (a) of Schedule below).

Site feasibility requirements

At this stage the functional design appropriate to the site and parking requirements is prepared. This process may involve preparing trial designs in accordance with the client's brief and the traffic requirements. The performance requirements determined at this stage are given in (b) and (e) of the Schedule below.

Accommodation and operational requirements

To complete the performance specification the accommodation and operational requirements should be listed. The Schedule (points (d) to (u) below) is not necessarily complete and indicates points that may need taking into consideration.


The points to be considered in the three stages are:

(a) Capacity

(i) This the number of car spaces (stalls) required and is usually stated as a minimum capacity

(ii) If part of the park is to be used for a special category of user, or part of it to be partitioned as individual lock-ups, a breakdown into types of accommodation is required

(iii) The capacity is usually derived from the development that the car park serves; alternatively, the requirement may be to make appropriate use of a particular site

(b) Layout

(i) Floor and ramp arrangement

(ii) Arrangements of entrance/exit lanes and provision of reversible lanes

(iii) Arrangement of control gates including the preferredmethod of checking entry and exit (iv)Reservoir space at entry

(v) Reservoir space at exit

(vi) The arrangement required for pedestrian entrance, egress and circulation, including provision for the disabled

(vii) Escalators and lifts. Requirements should be specified; any special requirement, for instance for shopping trolleys, should be stated

(e) Dimensions

(i) Stall size (width and length). Where there are

special requirements the appropriate stall sizes should be stated for each requirement (ii) Aisle width

(iii) Clearway widths (iv) Helical ramps:


minimum outer kerb radius

(d) Internal accommodation

(i) Cash-kiosk requirements, includi~g _fittings (ii) Managers' office floor area and fittings (iii) Staff-room floor area and fittings

(iv) Staff toilet provision required

(v) Toilet accommodation required for. car-park users, including provision for the disabled (vi) Electricity substation requirements

(vii) Storage accommodation

(e) Headroom

The headroom is normally standard. In mixed-use buildings the headroom should be stated for floors not used wholly for parking.

(f) Ramp heating

Requirements for ramp heating should be stated.

(g) Entrance and exit controls

The entrance and exit control system required, if any, should be specified and also any payment system. Where payment is to be made the audit requirements should be specified.

(h) Finishes

Any preference for finishes, including the use of walls for advertising purposes, should be stated.

(i) Floor finishes

Any restrictions on floor finishes, for instance to facilitate use of shopping trolleys, should be stated.

(j) Signs and floor markings

Illumination of direction signs and provision of floor markings to facilitate circulation may be required as also may be reference markers to enable users easily to retrieve their vehicles.

(k) Ventilation

(i) Expected rate of air change

(ii) Maximum CO content permissible at any point in the structure.

(1) Heating

Temperature range to be maintained in the structure, in particular the necessity for heating staircases.

(m) Fire fighting and prevention

The general arrangements expected with regard to sprinklers, fire points, cut-off doors and alarm systems.

(n) Electrical equipment

Means of protection from mechanical damage and interference by unauthorised persons.

(0) Lighting

The standard of lighting expected and the method of control required.

(p) Drainage-pumps

Method of operation and control.

(q) Standby power arrangements

For operation of ventilation, lighting and pumping equipment.

(r) Cleaning arrangements

The method to be used for cleaning the car park, which will include provision for any necessary water and power take-off points.

(s) Surveillance and security arrangements

Where these may affect detailing of structure and including the provision of closed-circuit television.

(t) External signing

Requirements for external signing should be stated.

(u) Liaison

The arrangements to be made to keep the client in touch with the development of the project.

Choice of solution

Finally it is essential to remember that for any given problem or set of criteria there is often more than one satisfactory answer. It is clearly important that all reasonable possibilities be considered, and the client's brief should, therefore, not be unnecessarily restrictive but should be broadly based to give the designer the opportunity to exercise his skill, experience and judgment in formulating proposals for the most effective and economic parking facilities.



Appearance and planning

Car parking has become a significant land use. Consequently, car park structures in the form of the multistorey car park, the underground or basement car park, and the car park in a multi-function building are now common. Although they are found principally in city and town centres, they occur in many other situations, such as airports, conference centres, hotels, housing developments, places of employment (both offices and factories), places of entertainment, railway stations and sports facilities.

Certain features are common to all situations. Potential users should be able to identify readily a car-parking facility and its entrance. In urban areas it can be helpful if a public multi-storey car park may be seen readily to be what it is. Multi-storey car parks are open structures to permit natural ventilation. Usually their height does not exceed about 15m. Their main structural lines are horizontal, except for the ramped-floor layout for which the structural lines are inclined at a gradient not normally exceeding 1 in 20. To meet circulation requirements it may be necessary to have external ramps.

A free-standing multi-storey car park is essentially a functional building generally composed of a series of floors supported on columns to provide relatively large areas of uninterrupted floor space. Very little weather protection is required, and there is generally no need to roof over the top floor. There is almost always great emphasis on achieving low cost per car space, which leads to a demand for a 'cheap' building. If requirements demand the use of exterior ramps, these impose considerable restrictions on the design and appearance. All these factors add up to the conclusion that the production of multi-storey car parks that are aesthetically satisfying is almost always a challenging task.

Where a car park is required as part of a development, it is generally advantageous to design the development as a whole. By this means the circulation within the development is likely to be improved. There may then be the options of designing-the car park as a component part of a multi-function building or as a separate structure integrated into the development. The geometric design and layout recommendations in Section 3 are minima, except where clearly stated otherwise. Consequently, if a design for a car park as part of a multi-function building cannot be made to conform with the recommended design minima, it is recommended that the car park be designed as a separate structure. For large developments, and when all costs are taken into account, there is no evidence that incorporating car parks in buildings with other functions increases the cost of accommodating cars. Aesthetically, in some situations it may be desirable to place car parks underground, but it should be remembered that siting above ground usually reduces the cost of the structure and permits the use of natural ventilation.


The most difficult problems probably arise when it is necessary to integrate a multi-storey car park among buildings of historic interest. These are usually built to entirely different standards of scale, and in any case they have very little in common with the unit - the motor car - for which the multi-storey car park is designed. In such circumstances a strong case can sometimes be made for using underground car parks thus avoiding the use of a multi-storey car park altogether. If multi-storey car parks must be provided, they can, with advantage, be small in size, even though this may result in having a greater number of individual car parks than would otherwise be considered economical or desirable. It is tempting to say that multi-storey car parks should be harmonized with their surrounding buildings, but this can rarely be done really intimately, if only because of the fact that much of the elevations must remain open if the normal methods of conforming to building regulations with respect to fire are to be adopted.

The external appearance of a multi-storey car park is, of course, of great importance. The normal principles of architectural and structural design apply however, and no special guidance need be given. It is worth noting however that because car parks are often not fully clad, the structural form has a dominant influence.

It is an unfortunate fact that the finish of any building is the first element to suffer when costs have to be pruned, and as there is generally so little margin available in multi-storey car parks, this process has in the past had disastrous results on the quality of the appearance. It should be strongly resisted by those responsible. The great difference in quality that exists between the best and the worst indicates however that cost is not always the most important factor in ensuring that a satisfactory quality of appearance is achieved. There is no substitute for skill, experience and sympathetic handling at the design stage and for good architecture.

The treatment of the site surrounding a multi-storey car park can have a considerable impact on the building itself, and even in urban situations there is opportunity for hard landscaping. Intelligent choice of both hard landscaping and planting can serve as an important means of relating and connecting the car park with other buildings, and it is also of great value in relieving the visual impact of the car park. Vehicle and pedestrian access points provide an opportunity for treatment to avoid monotony, and shrubs, trees and flowers can help, particularly at those points, and will be much appreciated by users. In present-day designs for urban areas, buildings are not necessarily marshalled in terraces and parades. This feature of urban planning gives scope to set back structures from roads or streets and facilitates the use of external-ramp systems and the siting of entrance and exit controls outside structures.

Underground car parks pose few of the problems outlined above. The exception is in the ramps, which can

sterilize relatively large areas of the ground surface. The sides of the ramps offer obvious opportunities for careful thought and interesting treatment. However well ramps are dealt with they can never be things of beauty, and they should, therefore, be hidden away whenever possible. Straight ramps are usually more difficult to treat than ones with curves. The retention of established trees is important, and techniques exist whereby this can be done. Attention should be paid to minimizing the noise nuisance caused by ventilation fans in underground car parks.

Multi-storey and underground car parks are essentially functional, and the scope for internal decoration treatment is limited. In order to gain full public acceptance however, people must be attracted to them, and a

light, airy and welcoming interior appearance helps. Much can be done by well chosen colour schemes applied not overall, but at key positions used by drivers and their passengers when they become pedestrians. Vandalism presents a perpetual hazard, and it will rarely be possible on grounds of cost to choose vandal-resistant surfaces for large areas of the interior. Again, key danger areas should receive special attention. Full consideration needs to be taken at the design and planning stage of the need fully to integrate the services into the structure of the car park. This includes signs and signposting methods.

Finally, it is well to remember that visitors often gain their first impressions of the town from a car park as this is often the first building with which they have intimate contact. The inferences are obvious.



3.1 Introduction

The recommendations apply to all classes of multistorey and underground car parks, except for those with lock-up stalls and special-purpose parks such as for storage of cars at a manufacturer's premises. For car parks with lock-up stalls reference 1 is a useful guide. Requirements are presented in four parts:

• the car

• static requirements

• layout

• dynamic requirements.

There is some latitude in the choice of dimensions, for instance in relation to the use. This latitude may be considered in terms of pedestrian access to parked cars or the dynamic capacity required. Thus a greater stall width is recommended for short-term parking, e.g. for shoppers, than for long-term parking, e.g. for people at work. Similarly in a small car park a low dynamic capacity may be acceptable, since at worst relatively few drivers will be inconvenienced and then only for a short period. In a large car park such a restraint may be unacceptable because of the larger number of drivers affected and the greater overall delay that would be caused.

The cost of providing car-parking space in multistorey and underground car parks is not inconsiderable. In the circumstances it may be appropriate to consider whether in a particular case lower design standards than those recommended may be adopted. Particularly for private car parks it is sometimes suggested that smaller stalls may be used and that lack of circulation capacity can be overcome by controlling the circulation and the parking of cars. It has been found that in the general case car size is not directly connected with the income level of owners. Large cars may be bought relatively cheaply secondhand. Control measures can be considered, but apart from control by altering entrances and exists in use, such measures have not usually been found practical.

A distinction has sometimes been made between driver parking and attendant parking on the ground that with attendant parking lower geometric standards may be used, but these standards are not considered. Attendant parking is, perhaps, less attractive at present, because of its relatively high operating costs and low dynamic capacity.

It is recommended that provisions be made for entrance and exit controls from the inception of planning of a car park. In some instances no controls are required. In many instances, both for public and private car parks, entrance and exit controls are required to restrict use to those authorised, to exclude cars when the car park is full, to prevent cars entering by an exit, or to ensure that payment for use is made. It is recommended that provision be made and that it should permit the various types of control being installed since in the


Design geometry

course of time it may be necessary to install controls where none is required initially, or to alter the controls installed as a consequence of changing circumstances. If provision is not made for entrance and exit controls from the inception of planning it may be difficult or impossible to make adequate provision at a later date within the site area.

Recommended dimensions in this Section are net, and allowances should be added for finishes and fittings. For stalls demarcated by lines on floors, dimensions are to the centres of lines.

3.2 The car

Three design cars are used for car park design purposes; the small car; the standard car; the large car. The dimensions of these design cars are given in Table 1.

The swept area on a turn is shown for the large car in Fig. 1. The large car used in Fig. 1 is the large car used for highway design.?

Recommended practice is to design for normal use by the standard car and for occasional use by the large car.

The design car dimensions in Table 1 were obtained from a statistical analysis of new car registrations in 1971. It was found that 95% of new car registrations fitted within a rectangle on plan of 4.750m x 1. 800m. The 5% of cars larger than the standard car fitted with a rectangle on plan of 6. 100m x 2.00m. The small car was representative of 50% of new car registrations. Since these dimensions for design cars were established the sizes of cars will have changed. Investigations from time to time have indicated that any such changes in the dimensions of cars are insufficient to justify altering the design standards for car parks. The design cars described in Table 1 and in Fig. 1 are in current use for the design of local authority housing schemes and for the design of highways.

Table 1 Comparative table of design car sizes1

proportion length width turning-circle diameter
of new on on
registrations plan plan between between
m m kerbs, m walls, m
large car 100% 6.100 2.000 15.000 -
standard car 95% 4.750 1.800 13.000 14.000
small car 50% 4.100 1.600 11.000 - No height is specified for the large car. From an examination of lists of new cars available in the United Kingdom the maximum height was found to be 1.829m exclusive of roof rack and radio aerial. The majority of cars have an appreciably lesser height.

The design car dimensions given in Table 1 and Fig. 1 apply to cars registered in the United Kingdom whether made in the country or imported. The dimensions are not representative of the North American car.

It may be necessary to design for the North American

car. The dimensions of the United States of America design vehicle" are:

length width wheelbase

front overhang between axles rear overhang

turning circle (diameter) outer wall

5.72m 2.03m

1.05m 3.23m 1.55m


These dimensions were published in 1973 and are defined as the 'dimensions equal to or greater than the largest common models likely to frequent a parking facility." The maximum height is commonly 1.600.4

The recommended dimensional requirements for the North American car" are dimensions in feet converted into metres. In practice one would not expect dimensions in metres to be the exact equivalents of dimensions in feet. Depending on the unit of measurement, feet or metres, the practice is to round off to a convenient number taking into account the degree of precision justified in each instance. The dimensions given here have not been rounded off.

r>.,\f;;j ~'";1


-, \

\, \

. __ .---L-.

1. Swept area of large car (highway design)2

3.3 Static requirements

Stall width, stall length, aisle width and bin width The bin width is a function of the stall length, the aisle width and parking angle.

Recommended stall dimensions (UK) are:

stall length stall width long stay general short stay

disabled persons+"

minimum 3.200m

preferred minimum 3.600m

The stall width for disabled persons is inclusive of wheelchair users. For the architectural provisions to be incorporated in a building to make it convenient for use by disabled people reference should be made to BS 5810.7

For the North American car the recommended stall dimensions are:"


2.300m 2.400m 2.500m

stall length 5. 639m

stall width

industrial, office employees 2.591m

public, residential 2.743m

supermarket 2.896m to 3.048m

A width of 2.743 is acceptable for most uses.

Recommended aisle and bin widths are given in Tables 2a and 2b.

Table 2a Recommended aisle and bin widths - UK

parking aisle width bin width
angle (stall length 4.750m)
minimum preferred stall minimum preferred
m m width m minimum
m m
two-way aisle
90° 6.9S0 r 6.950 all 16.450 16.450
one-way aisle
90° 6.000 6.000 all 15.500 15.500
80° 5.250 5.2S0 2.3UO 15.404 15.404
2.4UO IS.439 IS.439
2.500 15.474 IS.474
70° 4.500 4.700 2.300 IS .000 IS.200
2.4UO 15.069 15.269
2.500 IS.137 15.337
60° 3.750 4.200 2.300 14.277 14.727
2.400 14.377 14.827
2.500 14.477 14.927
50° 3.500 3.800 2.300 13.734 14.()34
2.4UO 13.863 14.163
2.SOO 13.991 14.291
45° 3.500 3.60() 2.3UO 13.470 13.570
2.400 13.612 13.712
2.500 13.752 13.853 The bin width is for an aisle with a stall on each side.

Parking angles of less than 90° are little used in underground and multi-storey car parks. Hence for these parking angles the aisle widths are provided for guidance and circumstances may justify using different widths.

For the North American car the recommended aisle and bin widths are given in Table 2b.

Table 2b Recommended aisle and bin widths'' - USA

parking angle aisle width bin width
m m
90° 7.925 19.202
7So 7.010 18.898
60° 4.877 16.459
45° 3.658 14.326 Notes:

I. Stall width 2.743m. A bin is an aisle with a stall on either side. 2. These dimensions are for 5.639m long stall, measured parallel to vehicle, and are based on results of a special study to evaluate the effects of varied aisle and stall width for the different parking angles shown. The study was conducted in December 1970 by the Federal Highway Administration and Paul C. Box and Associates.

Side clearance on structure

Where a stall is adjacent to a large element such as a wall it is recommended that a clearance of 0.230m be provided.


Recommended distances from the aisle are:


preferred minimum


0.800 to 1.000m

Where columns are set back the recommended distance from an aisle they may encroach on the stall width. If columns are set nearer to the aisle the effect is to reduce the stall width. Clear-span construction is preferred, but financial considerations often lead to the use of


columns. If columns are used it is recommended there be not less than three stalls between columns.


!,he recommended minimum clear height or headroom IS 2.050m through the building. Vehicles of the motorcaravan type are considerably higher than the general run of cars and may need to be accommodated for instance in a residential area. This may be done by giving the ground floor the higher minimum headroom of 2.3<?Om. I Since there is no restriction on the height of vehicles there can be no guarantee that this headroom will be adequate for all motor caravans.

The headroom applies to entrances, exits, stalls, aisles and ramps. To determine the structural height it is recommended that designs be prepared in outline for signing, lighting, ventilation, the sprinkler system and any other possible projections below structure such as conduits and drainage pipes. The projections below structure of these various services should be estimated and be added to the headroom to determine the clear structure height required. In addition, allowance should be made for finishes, dimensional tolerances and structural deflections. It is particularly recommended that the headroom be checked at the bottom of ramps since cars will span from ramp to floor.

For the North American car the recommended clear height or headroom is 2.134m.4

Floor gradient

Flo?rs should be laid to a fall, where necessary, for drainage purposes (see subsection 8.2). In parking ramp garages the recommended maximum gradient is 1 in 20 but steeper gradients have been used. A flatter gradient is pre~erable since with a steep gradient difficulty may be experienced in opening and in keeping open a car door on the up-gradient side and in closing a door on the down-gradient side.

Ramp and accessway gradients

The recommended maximum gradients are: straight ramps

rise not greater than 1.500m rise greater than 1.500m

helical ramps gradient measured on centre-line)

rise not greater than 3.000m

rise greater than 3.000m

1 in 7 1 in 10

1 in 10 1 in 12

If at the top of a ramp steeper than 1 in 10 the floor or roof is laid to a fall of 1 in 60 or steeper away from the ramp a transition length should be provided. The transition length should be at least 3.000m and its gradient half the gradient of the ramp.

For the North American car the recommended maximum gradient is 1 in 10. The transitional gradient at half the main gradient should extend over 3.658m.4

Ramp and accessway curvature, widths and clearance on structure

The recommended dimensions are:

Outer kerb radius recommended preferred minimum absolute minimum structure clearance

outside kerb

12.000m 9.000m 7.500m



Curved ramp and accessway width one-way


width of central raised kerb on two-way ramp

Straight ramp and accessway width between kerbs

side clearance on structure preferred minimum minimum

3.650m 7.000m



O.300m 0.230m

The majority of road vehicles can turn within a circle of diameter 24.000m between kerbs. The turning circle of a car is not prescribed by law. The turning circle of the large design car is 15.000m diameter between kerbs. In consequence if the proportion of large cars using a car park is expected to be above average it is recommended that curved ramps and accessways have an outer kerb radius of not less than 9.000m.

On straight ramps the recommended minimum width between kerbs is 3.000m. The width between kerbs of 2.430m has been used.

Where cars turn on entering or leaving a straight ramp a widening or flare may be required at the ramp end. The flare required depends on the ramp width and the avail~ble s~ace for turning at the ramp end, for example, the aisle Width where a ramp connects to an aisle.

For the North American car the recommended dimensions are:"

inner structure radius minimum

outer structure radius


minimum 9.754m

recommended minimum 10. 668m to 11. 728m

curved ramp and accessway width

between structure

minimum, one-way 4.627m to 3.658m

straight ramp and accessway width

between structure



On. curved ramps it is desirable to provide superelevanon: the recommended provision is 1 in 10.

Kerb height

When it is important that cars should not mount kerbs, the recommended kerb height is 150mm above channel level, but in other cases the kerb height should not exceed l00mm.

Entry and exit arrangements

The details of entry and exit control points vary with the management system adopted. Fig. 2 illustrates a typical pay-on-exit arrangement which, nevertheless, contains most of the requirements for other systems. The width of carriageway at control points should not exceed 2·300m, (3·048m for the North American car'), and drivers should be encouraged to approach ticket-issuing machines and. payment kiosks as closely as possible by the use of flexible bollards and white lines. The carriageway width may be reduced to 2·150m when the approach to the control point is straight for a reasonable distance preceding the point. The siting of entry or exit controls on bends is not recommended, but if it is unavoidable then a wider accessway is required.


1-520 2·300
r>. Ifsuitable

1-220 of kiosk •
Closing In •
-~.- .- CO). .-
loop ~
\ 0 N
N Kiosk Flexible /
~ bollards •
~.-.- '--1 _" \
Photoelectric 0 a>
In •
V cell N N
t:'I Barrier
p~ ------- - arm,
0 0
arm N
Detector 0
a> It-.'___ - -_:jj--'
loop In
N Closin~ loop
-11-,-,- .- ~I
. k t . . ,-
TIC e -ISSUing
\r ~
In Out 0.2J01 ... 1---2-.5--2-5-----I~

I ... ·---2-.5-2-5--~·~1 10.230


Ticketissuing machine


leveL I

Section A-A

2. Layout of entrance and exit controls (pay on exit)

Notes: (i) 6·000m of straight accessway is desirable at the approach to kiosks and ticket machines

(ii) The headroom should be displayed at the entrance. This may be done by placing a bar over each entrance lane at the headroom height with the headroom marked on it.

The maximum permitted width of road vehicles is ordinarily 2·500m. Hence there may be a demand to provide a width of, say, 2·600m at entry and exit control points. If such a width is provided at automatic ticketissuing or payment machines the dynamic capacity of the equipment will fall as, for instance, some drivers may find it necesary to leave their cars to use the machines. If it is considered necessary to provide a greater width than is required for cars it is recommended that temporary measures be provided to reduce the width when the entry or exit is used by cars only.

The height of ticket-issuing machines and window-sill level of the kiosk should not exceed 1· 150m to reduce as far as possible difficulties met with while taking tickets and paying parking fees when seated in a car.

It is recommended that a straight accessway of at least 6·000m length be provided on the approach to a ticket-issuing machine or a payment kiosk.

It is desirable to provide an area of the least possible slope at control points to reduce braking and starting difficulties. A maximum gradient of 1 in 40 is desirable, but gradients of up to 1 in 12 have proved acceptable, if not desirable.

Between the public road system and entrance and exit control barriers vehicle reservoirs are required (see subsection 3.5).

Where an unattended automatic control is provided at an entrance or exit it is necessary to provide for system malfunction. The control equipment may malfunction or drivers may be unable to operate the system. For example when a car stops the engine may stop and the driver be unable to restart. Alternatively a driver may be unable to open the exit control because the pass, token or money required is not to hand.

At an exit with an unattended automatic control a layby should be provided inside the car park at the exit. Cars unable to leave the car park may then be put in the layby leaving the exit clear for following cars .

Where unattended automatic equipment is installed at an entrance or exit the layout may require enlarging to permit some duplication of equipment to allow for malfunctioning. Requirements will depend on individual circumstances, including the provision made by manufacturers in equipment to reduce malfunctioning.

3.4 Layout of car parks Principles

The design details of car parks are, in general, independent of their size. Three considerations affect the layouts of larger car parks:

• both the static capacity and the dynamic capacity must be adequate

• search paths for incoming drivers should not involve more than about 500 stalls

• the maximum number of floors or circuits to be searched for a stall is often regarded as six; a greater number of floors may be frustrating because of delays to drivers and disorientation may result from the larger number of turns and ramps involved. It follows that if entrances are provided to more than one level, or if accessway ramps climbing two or more floors are used, then more than six floors or circuits may be feasible.

Car parks expected to carry considerable traffic flows throughout the day should preferably have one-wayonly systems. This applies also to industrial car parks for shift workers' cars. It does not apply so strongly to car parks for day-only office or factory workers where there may be demands only for maximum inflow and zero outflow, or vice versa.

Multi-storey and underground car parks are laid out using the same principles as apply to surface car parks. With existing public car parks it may be impractical to achieve 100% stall occupancy. It is usual to provide a car park with an automatic counting mechanism that maintains a total of the cars in the car park. This mechanism is used to operate a sign showing 'parking' or 'full' at the entrance. The operator may find it necessary to set this mechanism to show 'full' when the number of cars in the


car park is less than the number of stalls but congestion is being experienced.

It is not practical at the entrance to a car park to allocate particular vacant stalls to drivers and to enforce use of stalls so allocated. The onus rests on drivers to search for vacant stalls. This search is facilitated by laying out a car park in units. At the entrance and exit of each unit an automatic counting mechanism is then provided that maintains a total of the number of cars in the unit. This counting mechanism is then used to operate a sign showing 'space' or 'full' at the entrance to the unit. This tells drivers if they will find a vacant stall in a unit.

Drivers entering a car park or unit of a car park do not necessarily park in the first vacant stall they come to. Hence the circulation of a car park, or unit of a car park, should permit a search being initiated for a vacant stall from anywhere in the car park, or unit of the car park without leaving the car park or unit.

While stalls may be reserved in multi-storey and underground car parks it is not the practice to install any enforcement mechanism such as barriers. In large centres of employment many may require parking space, but commonly appreciably fewer are present at anyone time owing to absences for a variety of reasons.

When preparing the layout of a car park it is usual to refer to designs of existing car parks. Public multi-storey and underground car parks commonly are under used; there are exceptions of course. When a large public multi-storey car park in a town or city centre is visited it is quite usual to find most of the cars parked on floors near pedestrian exits. On other floors there may be fewer cars and the roof level may be empty. Consequently reports on the convenience of car parks by drivers and operators may not be informative. Published information on car parks that have been built does not as a rule include an operational assessment. Hence when using existing designs for guidance it is recommended that designers first make their own assessment of operational suitability.

Cul-de-sac parking

It is preferable to avoid using multiple cul-de-sac aisles. If they are used the capacity of a cul-de-sac should be limited to about 6 stalls.

Cul-de-sacs are difficult to manoeuvre in and necessarily lie off a driver's search path for a vacant stall.

One- and two-way aisles

The advantages and disadvantages of one- and two-way aisles are set out in Table 3.

Parking angle

In one-way aisle systems placing stalls at an angle of less than 90° to aisles for forward parking is a convenience for drivers since it facilitates driving into and reversing out of stalls. A disadvantage of using a lesser parking angle is that a greater floor area per car is required. This disadvantage may be expressed as a reduction in the static efficiency, namely the ratio of the area provided in stalls to the total considered floor area, expressed as a percentage. Static efficiencies for various parking angles and for a parking area without columns are:

parking angle bin width static efficiency

90° 15·500m 61·3%

80° 15·439m 60·6%

70° 15·269m 58·5%

4SO 13·712m 49·0%

stall length 4· 750m

stall width 2·400m


Reducing the parking angle increases the dynamic capacity of the aisle. Reducing the parking angle from 90° to 80° has a relatively marked effect; reducing the parking angle further has relatively little further effect.

Layout controls

The layout of a car park is determined by the static capacity required, the site dimensions, the traffic demand (dynamic capacity required), the access to the site and the entrance and exit control requirements. The layouts of entrances and exits may also be affected by traffic flows on the road system. There may also be a requirement to combine the car park in a building with other uses. In consequence, a comparison of alternative layouts in terms of their geometry alone is incomplete.

For the purpose of arriving at a satisfactory layout it may be useful to use the concept of efficiency. The static efficiency is the ratio of the area provided in stalls to the total considered floor area, expressed as a percentage. Achieving maximum structural efficiency involves minimizing the structure cost per stall. These measures of efficiency do not necessarily give the same result and may not give the best functional efficiency.

Table 3 Functional comparison of aisles

one-way aisles

Easily understood system and requires little discipline

two-way aisles

Dynamic capacity good, especially when angle parking is adopted. Aisle widths may be less than two-way aisles

Dynamic capacity normally less than one-way aisles, but may be greater if maximum contraflows do not occur simultaneously so that advantage of the greater width of the two-way aisle can betaken

If narrow one-way aisles are adopted, vehicles straddling stall/aisle demarcation lines can obstruct the aisle

Generally greater width of aisles has lesser effect on aisle obstruction

Higher stuctural efficiency

Lower structural efficiency

Disregard of one-way traffic directions not uncommon in public car parks resulting in disruption of flow and creates accident hazard

Parking-area layout

Parking area layouts may be classed as:

flat deck

split level

ramped floor and warped slab

All classes are commonly built with up to six levels, that is for a multi-storey car park, a ground level and up to five levels above ground. The principles of layouts are reviewed here.

The flat-deck layout is illustrated in Fig. 3. Each deck is flat. The decks are linked by ramps. In the illustration external curved ramps are shown. Straight ramps may be used in which case usually they are sited internally. With the ramp arrangement in Fig. 3 it is possible to install automatic counters at each deck to operate a sign showing 'space' or 'full' as an aid to drivers. Flat-deck car parks usually are built in multiples of a bin in width,

3. Flat deck car park witb external ramps

4. Split-level car park witb combined entry and departure circulation and witb end ramps

5. Split-level car park witb separate entry, and departure circulation and a sbort down (departure) ramp system

6. Split-level car park witb separate entry and departure circulation and witb sbort up (entry) and down (departure) ramp system

but the layout is adaptable to a site. In Fig. 3 the ramp circulation is anticlockwise to suit the entrance and exit arrangements. In the United Kingdom a clockwise circulation is preferred, that is with the driver on the inside of the turn. This is not regarded as essential.

The split-level layout is illustrated in Figs. 4,5 and 6.

The illustrations are of multi-storey car parks, that is drivers enter by the up-ramp system and leave by the down-ramp system. In an underground car park the same principles apply but the ramps reverse; the downramp system becomes the entry-ramp system. The parking levels are flat decks or levels. The rise between levels is half the floor to floor height. Since the rise between levels is usually 1.500m or less the ramps may be at 1 in 7. This class of car park is commonly built with up to 12 levels inclusive of the ground levels. It is usual for aisles to be one way since they are part of the ramp circulation which is one way. The levels usually are a bin or multiples of a bin in width but may be adapted to a site.

In Fig. 4 the up-and-down ramps are at the ends of the structure. The scissor arrangement of the up-and-down ramps has a low dynamic capacity since sight distances are short where traffic streams merge. As shown in Fig. 4 the departure route is long. In Fig. 5 the up-and-down ramp systems have been separated. The down-ramp system is short, and the up or entry-ramp system in principle includes the remaining stalls. Fig. 6 illustrates the use of a short up-en try-ramp system as well as a short down-ramp system.

Attractions of the split-level layout are its compactness, that the ramp system is internal and that the space taken up by the ramps is a minimum. It may be difficult to search systematically for a vacant stall. In car parks laid out on the lines of Figs. 5 and 6 a driver may see a vacant stall that cannot be reached, if the one-way aisle system is observed, without first going up a level and then down a level. Similarly, when leaving from some stalls it is necessary first to go up a level.

The ramped floor layout is illustrated in Figs. 7, 8 and

9. Cars are parked off an aisle, which also acts as a ramp. The ramp may be two way. Fig. 7 shows a one-way aisle system with a clearway down (departure) ramp. Since there is a single search path this layout is not recommended for a car park capacity of more than 500 stalls. Even then the search path may be found inconveniently long. Instead of a clearway departure ramp a departure parking ramp may be used. In Fig. 8 the down parking ramp is end to end with the up parking ramp. In Fig. 9 the up-and-down parking ramps are interlaced. The view has been exploded to show all ramps. Ramped floor car parks usually are built two bins in width, and the layout is not adaptable to a site. The ramp need not be laid out as in the illustrations. It may for instance be laid out as an oval or a square. In a ramped-floor car park with a steep gradient it may be found difficult to open or hold open a car door on the up gradient side and to close a door on the down gradient side.

The warped-slab layout is illustrated in Fig. 10. At the edges the floor slabs are flat. Internally the floors are built to falls to provide an internal ramp system. It is usual for aisles to be one way. The layout is adaptable to a site in the same way as the flat deck layout. A factor that should be considered with the warped-slab layout is that the maximum gradient occurs on the central crossover. If a car is parked in this area it may be difficult to open or hold open a car door on the up-gradient side and to close a door on the down-gradient side.



Ramps are required to give access to parking levels. In a car park with three or more parking levels, access to those levels may involve the use of aisles (as is the case with split-level car parks), or the layout may not require drivers to route through aisles. A clearway ramp is a ramp system that does not include aisles. Ramps may be straight (which term includes ramps with bends) or helical (circular in plan).

Clearway ramps are used when it is desired to improve access time, or to avoid through traffic in parking areas, or where a ramp aisle system has insufficient dynamic capacity. If only one c1earway ramp is provided it is usually the departure ramp.

Two-way ramps require to be designed substantially to highway layout standard, in particular with regard to sight distance and lateral proximity of structure. Failure to design to an adequate standard will result in a reduction in capacity and may introduce an accident risk. Where requirements cannot be met it is recommended that a two-way ramp be designed as two one-way ramps with segregation of the traffic streams by barrier or kerb.

In some layouts contraflow occurs on straight ramps or crossovers between ramps. To avoid traffic streams crossing drivers are required to drive on the right instead of keeping to the left as is required on public roads. In such instances it is recommended that the traffic streams be separated by a kerb or barrier. A barrier may extend beyond the ends of a ramp or crossover to discourage drivers from attempting to drive in the wrong lane.

The use of a helical ramp is illustrated in Fig. 7.

Usually a helical ramp is sited externally but may be internal. The recommended direction of flow in the United Kingdom is clockwise, that is with the driver on the inside of the turn. This is recommended for ramps of minimum radius. If a larger radius is used an anticlockwise direction of flow is acceptable; ramps are in use with an anticlockwise direction of flow.

For car parks outside of the United Kingdom the preferred direction of circulation is with the driver on the inside of the turn.

Concentric helical up-and-down ramps may be used in larger car parks. The up-and-down ramps serve alternate floors respectively. In such instances the outer ramp should be the up ramp as it will have the lesser gradient.

Entrances and exits

The geometric layout requirements for entrance and exit controls are illustrated in Fig. 2. Between the external road or street and an entrance or exit barrier a vehicle reservoir is required (see subsection 3.5). Control is facilitated by having the minimum number of entrance and exit points. Where payment is to be made on exit it is desirable for the layout to permit all exits to be closed except one. This will enable the car park to be operated by one cashier at times when the demand is low.

It may also be advantageous to site the entrance and exit side by side, with one or more lanes made reversible. If then a peak inbound demand occurs at a different time of day from a peak outbound demand a lane or lanes may be made reversible and to operate to serve the peak demand. With a pay-at-exit system having the entrance beside the exit enables the cashier to exercise surveillance; alternatively surveillance may be by closed-circuit television.

Between an entrance control and the public road or


7. Ramped-floor car park with a clearway down (departure) ramp

8. Ramped-floor car park with separate entry and departure parking ramps

9. Ramped-floor car park with interlaced entry and departure parking ramps (exploded view)

10. Warped-slab car park

street a reservoir is required to avoid cars queuing on the road or street. The layout should permit cars in the reservoir returning to the public road system without entering the car park.

Where the use of a car park is controlled by the tariff (for example, a high charge may apply to a long stay in a car park intended for short-period use), the tariff or the intended use of the car park should be advertised. This should be done in such a way that drivers may see what they are committed to before entering.

Choice of layout

The factors affecting the layout of a car park, to which reference is made in Section 1, are so many and variable it is not practical to propose ideal layouts. It is recommended that the predominant use to which the car park will be put be borne in mind. The duration of parking varies with the trip purpose. It may be less than one hour for shopping consumables. For business trips the duration of parking is usually longer; it is still longer for work trips. For park-and-ride (for example at a railway station or airport for short-haul travel), the facility to park without delay is important.

The recommended maximum search path of 500 stalls in principle limits layouts with internal ramp systems to a maximum of 500 stalls capacity. This limitation arises since in general car parks with internal ramp systems are not equipped with automatic vehicle counters to operate signs informing drivers which parts of the car park are full and where there is space. Car parks with internal ramp systems have been built of substantially greater capacity than 500 stalls, but as previously mentioned, public car parks are commonly used at well below their design capacities in terms of stalls. If the attempt is made to use such a car park at near its capacity in stalls delay should be expected. This will act as a deterrent to the short duration parker or to park-and-ride travellers.

The search path of 500 stalls is the absolute maximum.

The preferred maximum is about 200 stalls, i.e. car parks of more than 200 stalls preferably should have more than one search path.

For larger car parks the preferred layout is usually the flat deck with external ramps. The ramps may be c1earway when usually they are helical. An alternative is the curved ramp illustrated in Fig. 3. This layout can be designed to include automatic vehicle counters that operate signs to inform drivers at each deck if it is full or there is space.

3.5 Dynamic requirements Procedure

The design procedure is to estimate the traffic demands and the dynamic capacities for the various parts of a car park. The two are then brought into balance by adjusting the layout or the details of the design. The turnover adequacy should then be checked.

Traffic demand

The vehicular traffic demand may be expressed in cars per hour. For a car park as a whole the minimum information required is:

for each entrance

the traffic demand for the car park peak hour

for each exit

traffic demands for the car park peak hours traffic demands for the highway peak hours traffic flows on the road or street for the car park

peak hours

traffic flows on the road or street for the highway peak hours

The precision with which traffic demands need be estimated may be assessed from the dynamic capacities of the parts of car parks. When determining the traffic flows on roads or streets it may be appropriate to allow for change of flow with time.

It is usual to consider the traffic demand as dependent on the journey purpose of the journey served. Where information is not available on the journey purpose a common practice is to allow for a demand equal to one-quarter of the car park capacity arriving or leaving in '/4 hour.

Dynamic capacity

The data on dynamic capacity have been obtained from reference 8 except where indicated. The dimensions of the aisles, stalls and cars used to establish the data are:

aisle width 4.877 and 7.315m

stall width 2.286 and 2.743m

stall length 4.877 and 5.486m

cars, maximum dimensions

length 4.780m

width 1.800m

turning circle between kerbs 12.500m

The data are necessarily of a limited nature. It is recommended that consideration be given whether the circumstances of a car park may justify some modification of the dynamic design capacities proposed. The variables used in formulas below are:

C cars per hour

en cars per hour inward CaUl cars per hour outward XI aisle width, metres

X2 stall width, metres

X3 stall length, metres

X4 percentage of cars reversing into stalls X5 0 for one-way aisle; I for cul-de-sac aisle

A area per car space, square metres

(=X2(2XI+ XI )/2)

N number of lanes in road or street

r radius of curvature of vehicle path, metres

S saturation flow (vehicles per hour) in near side lane of road or street

W ramp or accessway width (metres), 3.000m or greater

WI carriageway width of road or street, metres

Vehicle speed

The dynamic capacities of the parts of car parks are largely independent of the speeds of cars. Provided that free-flowing conditions prevail, the driver obtains little benefit from increased speeds.

Capacities of aisles and stalls

The capacity of an aisle with 90° parking is given by the formulas:

Cin = 55X,+425X2+150X3-1O.24X4-849 also

Cin = 49A-1O.IX4+300

COUI = 66X, + 242X2+ 52X3 + 7.7X4-136Xs-690 also

COUI = 34Ax7.5X4-109Xs-90

The formulas apply to straight and zig-zag aisles. The coefficient of X3 in the formula for the outflow capacity is not statistically significant.


Inflow capacrties with 90% confidence limits are plotted in Fig. n. Outflow capacities with 90% confidence limits are plotted in Fig. 12. The formulas apply to cul-de-sac and one-way traffic systems, with no cars unparking during inflow periods, and vice versa. Capacity is independent of aisle length. For estimating the capacity of a system the allowance for cars reversing to park may be taken as 30% for 900 parking.



30", reversed in stalls

>. ....

u o Q.

o u


e u







90'" confidence limits ----

Area per car space

11. Inflow capacity

Source is RRL report LR2218

12. Outflow capacity

Source is RRL report LR 2218


Outflow 30", reversed

in stalls

One-way-only aisle








90 ", confidence limits - - --

Area per car space


Calculated capacities of aisles are:

stall width aisle width

cars per hour

in out

870 750

910 760

950 790

m m

2.300 6.100

2.400 6.000

2.500 6.000

Assumed: stall length 4.750m 30% reversing into stalls

one-way aisle, stalls on both sides 900 parking

Time taken to park, and stall width

For stalls of width 2.300 to 2.750m, the average time to park is reduced by 20 seconds to 33 second per metre increase in stall width depending on whether the car park is empty or full, respectively.

Parking angle

The angling of stalls adjoining one-way aisles reduced the percentage of drivers reversing to park (and hence increases the dynamic capacity of the aisle).

Proposed allowances for reversing to park are:

stall angle approximate proposed

proportional allowance for

change in drivers drivers reversing

reversing into into stalls

stalls 1.00 0.43 0.40 0.37

30% 13% 12% 11%

Ramp capacity

The recommended capacity of a straight ramp is 1900 cars per hour. (The evaluation was made on 3.048m ramps at a gradient of 1 in 13 or 7.7%.) The capacity is the same for up and down ramps. For the ramps evaluated the speed obtaining did not affect capacity significantly.

Accessway and carriageway capacity

The capacity of straight accessways and carriageways is given by the formula:


The formula applies to one-way accessways and carriageways of widths 3.048 to 9.144m.

For a 3.000m accessway the calculated capacity is, say, 1850 cars per hour. The formula applies to accessways where drivers do not overtake or travel side-by-side. Where overtaking or driving side-by-side occurs the capacity formula for public roads applies: C=525WI•

Bends on accessways and ramps

The capacity of bends on accessways and ramps is given by the formula:

C= 1850/(1 + 100/,-3).

This formula applies to helical ramps. A helical ramp of outer kerb radius 12.000m and width 3.65Om has a calculated capacity of about 1700 cars per hour.

Entrance-barrier capacity

The recommended capacity for a left-hand turn-in where the ticket is taken from a machine is 450 cars per hour. Proprietary equipment is normally used for entrance barriers that may have a higher dynamic capacity.

Vehicle reservoir at entrance, and entrance layout The short-period arrival rate of cars may exceed the entrance barrier capacity (and/or the dynamic capacity of other parts of a car park). To prevent a queue extending on to a public road a vehicle reservoir may be provided.

In a situation where drivers may have to wait to enter a car park because it is full, it is desirable to have a layout such that a driver in an entrance reservoir may return to the street or road without entering the car park.

Exit-barrier capacity

The recommended capacity is:

Pay on exit to attendant:

attendant calculates the charge

fixed charge

Driver purchases token before leaving car park and at the exit inserts token into a machine

200 cars per hour 270 cars per hour

400 cars per hour

The capacity of attendant systems is low in comparison with the traffic demands commonly experienced in larger car parks. Consequently, there is a demand for systems with a higher capacity, and proprietary systems are under development. Hence it is recommended that the availability of proprietary systems with a higher capacity be considered when preparing a design.

The pay-on-exit capacity of 200 cars per hour where the attendant calculates the charge may not be achieved. Drivers often experience a slower rate. The rate was determined for town and city-centre car parks when payment commonly was in coin. Observed rates were in the range 150 to 225 cars per hour. To achieve a high rate there must be an adequate vehicle reservoir between the barrier and the outside road or street. The cashier's kiosk should be designed for ease of access to drivers. The kiosk needs to be equipped for the rapid calculation of the charge. The cashier needs to be trained. Also a trained cashier will require relieving if a high rate has to be maintained over a long period. Where payment is made and change is given in notes it is considered that a rate of 200 cars per hour is unlikely to be obtainable and that a lower rate will have to be estimated.

For a large car park a low exit-barrier capacity associated with a pay-on-exit system results in many exit lanes being required most of which will be required only in peak periods. Space will also be required for drivers to diverge to vacant exit lanes. In such cases it is suggested use of an alternative system be considered such as the pay-on-foot system. In this system drivers pay to a cashier or machine before going to their cars and receive a ticket or token. At the exit the ticket or token is inserted in a machine to open the exit barrier.

Exit capacity

The exit of a car park on to a road may be evaluated as a T-junction. The exit is the minor road or stem of the T. The the major.or bar of the T. Where the major road carnes zero traffic the recommended capacity of a car-park exit is:

turning left, no possibility of other traffic

estimate as for an accessway with bend

turning left with restricted sight line, GIVE WAY sign


WAIT sign and stop line

say, 780 cars per hour

For the case where the major road carries traffic the method of assessment is illustrated by an example. Given:

car park exit (minor road) traffic demand

exit accessway capacity

road (major road) one-way with two lanes carriageway width (WI) through traffic

200 cars per hour 780 cars per hour

6. 100m

800 vehicles per hour


estimate the saturation flow on road (major road) near side lane


S=525x6.1xl/2=1600 vehicles per hour

minor road (car-park exit) saturation flow

traffic demand

major road (public road) saturation flow in near 1600 vehicles per hour side lane without car


traffic demand

780 cars per hour 200 cars per hour

400 vehicles per hour

Enter Table 4 with data for the minor road and major road.

The minor road exit capacity is about 530 cars per hour.


The exit traffic demand of 200 cars per hour is well within the capacity of 530 cars per hour.

Table 4 is for major roads with a near side-lane saturation flow of 1600 vehicles per hour; Table 5 is for 2000 vehicles per hour. Both Tables apply to a single stream of left-turning cars entering a single lane oftraffic in a one-way road. Additional traffic in other lanes ofthe major road is ignored. Tables 4 and 5 are calculated on the basis that for a car to leave the car park exit there must be a gap of 5.4 seconds in the road traffic.

The example is for a left turn out of a car park. For right turns reference 2 may be consulted for guidance. Where the external road carries a significant traffic flow it may not be feasible to provide for a right turn out from a car park using a priority-type junction.

Vehicle reservoir at exit

F~r an exit barrier to operate at its design capacity a dnver must be able to draw clear immediately the barrier opens. If then cars have to wait to enter the road a queue may form and obstruct the barrier to such an extent as to cause an unacceptable reduction in capacity. In these circumstances a vehicle reservoir is required between the exit barrier or barriers and the road. Requirements for exit-vehicle reservoirs may be estimated using Figs. 13, 14, 15, 16,17 & 18 which apply to exit-barrier capacities of 200,270 and 400 cars per hour. The design method is illustrated by an example."


car-park peak departure

demand 700 cars per hour

exit-barrier capacity

(one barrier) 270 cars per hour

exit is on to a one-way street;

flow on near side lane 500 vehicles per hour


Table 4 Capacity (vehicle/h) of minor-road for left-turning traffic at T-junction, where saturation flow for near-side lane is 1600 vehiclelh8
Acceptable gap in major-road traffic = 5.4 seconds
flow in saturation flow for minor-road (car/h)
N/S lane
(vehicle/h) 700 800 900 1000 1100 1200 1300 1400 1500 1600 1700 1800
100 645 731 816 902 988 1074 1160 1245 1331 1417 1503 1589
200 591 664 737 810 883 956 1030 1103 1176 1250 1323 1396
300 537 599 661 723 785 847 909 971 1034 1096 1518 1221
400 485 537 589 641 693 745 798 850 903 955 1008 1060
500 434 477 520 564 607 651 695 738 782 826 871 915
600 385 420 455 491 527 563 600 636 672 709 745 782
700 337 365 394 423 453 482 512 542 572 602 632 662
800 291 314 337 360 384 408 432 456 480 504 529 553
900 247 265 283 301 320 339 359 377 397 416 435 455
1000 205 219 233 247 261 276 291 306 321 336 351 366
1100 165 175 186 196 207 218 229 241 252 264 275 287
1200 128 135 142 150 158 166 174 182 190 198 207 213
1300 92 97 102 107 112 118 123 129 134 140 146 151
1400 59 62 65 68 71 74 77 81 84 88 91 95
1500 28 29 31 32 33 35 36 38 39 41 43 44
1600 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Table 5 Capacity (vehicle/h) of minor-road for left turning traffic at T-junction where saturation flow for near-side lane is 2000 vehiclelh8
Acceptable gap in major-road traffic = 5.4 seconds
flow in saturation flow for minor-road (car/h)
N/S lane
(vehicle/h) 700 800 900 1000 1100 1200 1300 1400 1500 1600 1700 1800
100 645 731 817 903 989 1075 1161 1246 1332 1418 1504 1590
200 592 666 739 812 886 959 1033 1107 1180 1254 1327 1401
300 541 604 666 728 791 854 916 979 1042 1104 1167 1230
400 492 545 597 650 703 756 809 863 916 969 1023 1076
500 445 489 533 578 622 667 712 757 802 847 892 937
600 400 436 473 510 548 585 623 661 699 737 775 813
700 357 387 417 448 479 511 542 574 605 637 669 601
800 316 341 366 391 417 443 469 495 521 548 574 701
900 278 297 318 339 360 381 402 424 446 467 489 511
1000 241 257 274 290 308 325 342 360 378 395 413 431
1100 207 220 233 246 260 274 288 302 317 331 345 360
1200 176 186 196 206 217 228 239 251 262 274 285 297
1300 146 154 162 170 178 187 196 205 213 222 231 241
1400 119 125 131 137 143 150 157 163 170 177 184 191
1500 94 98 103 107 112 117 122 127 132 137 142 147
1600 71 74 77 80 84 87 91 94 98 102 105 109
1700 51 52 54 56 59 61 63 66 68 71 73 76
1800 32 33 34 35 36 38 39 41 42 44 45 47
1900 15 15 16 16 17 17 18 19 19 20 21 21
2000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
.!:. 13. Mean discharge rates from a car-park exit in terms or
~ reservoir size and main-road now
<; (Gate service capacity 200 car/h)?
u 250
C Calculation:
'w A minimum of three exit barriers is required.
The combined design capacity of three barriers is 810
~ cars per hour. A 10% reduction in barrier capacity will
e therefore be acceptable giving a barrier operating
capacity of 240 cars per hour.
Case A - each barrier operates at 240 cars per hour.
The flows in the near side lane of the road outside each
~ barrier are:
- barrier 1 500 vehicles per hour
c 100 barrier2 500+240 =740 vehicles per hour
~ 0 1200
::I: Main-road flow: nearside lane, vehicle/h barrier 3 740 + 240 =980 vehicles per hour
22 ...

';c ..

s: '" "



; 150


I: o ..


1000~---:2~00::--~4:-:!0~0--::-!:-::---~::--~:-::---:'12:-:'00 "'ain-road flow: nearside lane, vehicie/h

14. Mean discharge rates from a car-park exit in terms of reservoir size and main-road flow

(Gate service capacity 270 car/h)?

15. Mean discharge rates from a car-park exit in terms of reservoir and main-road flow

(Gate service capacity 400 car/h)"


Refer to Fig. 17 (for barrier with service capacity of 270 cars per hour). Use 10% capacity reduction graph. By inspection:

barrier 1 vehicle reservoir 1 car barrier 2 vehicle reservoir 2 cars barrier 3 vehicle reservoir 6 cars

It may be more convenient to have vehicle reservoirs of the same size in which instance Case B applies.

Case B -- vehicle reservoirs of the same size:

Refer to Fig. 14 (for barrier with a service capacity of 270 cars per hour). Check if a 2 car reservoir is adequate.

barrier 1 flow on road 500 vehicles per hour

barrier capacity 265 cars per hour

barrier 2 flow on road 765 vehicles per hour

barrier capacity 245 cars per hour



:E CII >

'0 o o .. ,

c 5 ~

Gate service ccpccit y 200 Garth


Reservoir size, Gar spaces

16. Relationship between percentage reduction in system capacity, main-road flow and reservoir size for a gate service capacity of 200 car/h9

17. Relationship between percentage reduction in system capacity, main-road flow and reservoir size for agate service capacity of 270 car/h"


Q; 0
VI '0
.. 0
v e
Q. ,
VI c
~ Gate service capacity 270 car/h







Reservoir size, car spaces

barrier 3 flow on road 1010 vehicles per hour

barrier capacity 210 cars per hour

Total barrier capacity = 265 + 245 + 210 = 720 cars per hour.

The total exit flow from two barriers discharging through the same T-junction may not approach twice that of a single barrier in similar conditions owing to mutual interference between the two traffic streams.


Turnover is a measure of the use made of a car park and is the number of times a stall is used during a day. It is calculated by dividing the number of cars entering the car park during the day by the number of stalls in the car



Percentage· reduction in

system capacity






Reservoir srze , car spaces

18. Relationship between percentage reduction in system capacity. main-road Dow and reservoir size for a gate service capacity of 400 carlh9

park. Thus a car park used solely by drivers parking all day, for instance while they are at work, would have a turnover of 1 if it were fully occupied and less than 1 if it were not. Turnovers of car parks vary significantly and turnovers up to over 12 have been reported for shopping centre surface car parks.

A high turnover is associated with a short stay and a high volume of internal movement. Attention is drawn to the recommended stall width of2.500m for short-stay parking in subsection 3.3. The additional width of stall


over the general width of2.400m facilities loading cars as well as the parking and un parking of cars. The formulae in subsection 3.5 enable the effect of varying the dimensions of layouts and the parking angle to be evaluated. In addition, for a high-turnover car-park, short multiple-search paths are desirable, and it is desirable to lay them out on a systematic basis to facilitate a systematic search by drivers for a vacant stall. It is suggested that the split-level layout is unlikely to prove satisfactory for a high turnover owing to the relatively complicated search paths associated with certain stalls. For a high turnover the flat-deck layout is likely to be preferable with clear-span construction to give drivers good visibility and to facilitate parking and unparking. Clearway ramps both up and down may be required. Signing, both directional and of informatory nature, for vehicles and pedestrians is also required.

It is recommended that a short-stay high-turnover car park be planned in association with the development it is intended to serve. Pedestrian access should be direct and short, and the lift capacity must be adequate to meet the demand.

In surface car-park design the requirement to cater for a short stay and high turnover usually involves a reduction in the ratio of stall area to total car park area, that is in a reduction in the static efficiency of the layout. This method of providing for a high turnover is less acceptable in multi-storey and underground car parks because of the cost involved. If then a multi-storey or underground car park is being planned in association with surface car parking it is suggested that consideration be given to using surface car-park capacity for the short-stay high-turnover traffic and the parking structure for the longer stay lower-turnover traffic. Thus in a town centre that may be short-stay high-turnover demand for shopping and a longer-stay lower-turnover demand for employee parking which it may be possible to accommodate in the structure.



Vehicular and pedestrian control

4.1 Vehicle control Introduction

For the full dynamic capacity of a car park to be attained, traffic must flow smoothly into, out of and within the building, so enabling the driver to enter and park and subsequently relocate his car and leave as easily and quickly as possible.

Smooth and rapid traffic flow can be achieved only by the careful design of the car park and the intelligent selection of the parking control system. It is apparent that the layout, location and function of each car park will influence the selection of the parking control system to be adopted.

Traffic control is enforced in car parks at various


at entry

within the car park

in the collection of parking fees at the exit.

Entry control

Whenever controlled entry is required, either for charging purposes or to prevent congestion in the car park, the choice has to be made between rising-arm and risingstep barriers. These may be accompanied by traffic signals CAR PARK FULL signs, ticket-issuing machines and SEASON TICKET ACCEPTANCE machines.

Lifting-arm barriers

Lifting-arm barriers are generally to be preferred since they are easily visible to the motorist and straightforward in operation. While the mechanism is robust, the arms are easily damaged and may require frequent maintenance and repair arising from accidental damage or vandalism.

Rising-step barriers

Rising-step barriers consist of a steel plate that can be mechanically raised from its 'down' position level with the roadway to its 'up' position in which it protrudes above the road surface to form a barrier to motor traffic. These barriers, which are more expensive to purchase than barrier arms, have been found to be more resistant to vandalism and also to provide a more positive vehicle barrier. Cases have been reported of vehicles being damaged either by malfunction of the barrier or because they were not immediately visible to motorists, and it is therefore recommended that they should always be used in conjunction with a traffic signal that should show red when the barrier is up and green when it is lowered.

Because of their greater vandal resistance, they have been used for the control of unattended car parks with some success, often in conjunction with collapsible traffic plates at the exit. These plates,

which are hinged at ground level on their leading edge, are so arranged that free traffic flow is permitted in one direction while providing a positive barrier to vehicles travelling in the other.

Capacity of entry lanes

The vehicle capacity of entrance lanes will depend on the means of fee collection adopted. In general terms the maximum capacities for each system are:

Capacity of a single lane, cars/h

no ticket issue automatic ticket issue

barrier arm 550


rising step 500 450

In designing car-park entry lanes it is important to recognize that the maximum efficiency will be achieved when motorists can drive into the car park in a straight line and that capacity will be reduced as bends to left or right are introduced. It is particularly important when tickets have to be obtained prior to the barrier arm to ensure that the motorist can remove the ticket from the issuing machine with ease while seated in his car. This can be particularly difficult to arrange with a left-hand bend immediately prior to the entrance.

Where access to a car park is by way of a ramp, the entry control should never be located on the ramp and, wherever possible, controls should be sited to avoid queuing on the ramp itself.

Control within the car park

Once a motorist has passed through the entrance control, his aim will be to find a vacant stall as conveniently situated to his purpose as appears likely to be available. In order to ensure the convenient and efficient operation of a car park it is, therefore, essential to install a clear system of signs and floor markings. In car parks housing up to 400 to 500 cars it is usually sufficient to install signs and markings to indicate the routes the motorist may follow and to leave to him the problem of precise location of a vacant stall.

In larger car parks this approach is too haphazard and usually results in delay and inefficient operation. As a result it is usual to divide large car parks into units of 100 to 300 stalls and to guide incoming cars to units with vacant stalls. This guidance can be achieved by using electronic detectors that activate vehicle counters that constantly monitor the occupancy of units. These counters automatically switch internally illuminated signs to guide incoming motorists to units that have vacant stalls. While it is unusual to install such a guidance system in car parks of 500 stalls or less, there may be circumstances in which it will be helpful to motorists to do so.

While electronic control systems are often necessary in large car parks, they should be avoided whenever it is possible through the design of the car park. This can be


achieved by providing a logical search path that the incoming motorist will follow through the car park and which will enable him to find a parking space with ease. It is recognised that there will be instances where, in order to take advantage of small or awkward shaped sites, it will be necessary to construct car parks that rely entirely for their successful operation on electronic control equipment, and this may be justifiable in congested city sites. However, as has been noted above, a straightforward and smooth-flowing design is greatly to be preferred.


It has been found that standard highway signs are not suitable for use in car parks. In consequence a number of ranges of internally illuminated signs have been developed which convey their message in words and symbols with extreme clarity. Because of the limited headroom usually provided in car-parking buildings, signs require careful location to ensure that they are not obstructed by structural elements on the one hand or vehicle or pedestrian movements on the other.

Road markings may be similar to those of standard highway design, but unless they are maintained, kept clean and well lit, they will be valueless. The internal floors of multi-storey car parks should therefore be cleaned regularly to avoid the accumulation of rubber worn from the car tyres and other dust and debris.

The layout of the internal lighting can also be used to guide the motorist. For example, if flourescent fittings are generally arranged parallel to the parking aisles, a fitting at right-angles to the aisle will help to draw the attention of the motorist to a ramp position.

Internally illuminated signs are usually adopted in car parks and are of considerable value in their operation and control. One aspect of the design of these signs that requires careful consideration is the brightness of the internal light source. In the relative gloom of a car parking building, signs can easily be lit too brightly, and if that is so, glare can make them difficult to read.

Vehicle safety barriers10.11

One aspect of vehicle control within a car park is the restraint of vehicles that get out of control. The driver's foot may slip, his brakes fail or he may be taken ill at the wheel, and in any of these cases his car might be driven at relatively high speed into other parked cars or the perimeter balustrading. As a result, high standards of design are necessary for perimeter barriers, with care being taken to ensure that external cladding is adequately protected. In addition, crash barriers will usually be required at the bottom of long ramps where vehicles, if out of control, could be travelling at relatively higher speeds. In addition, further strengthening should be provided to barriers at the ends of long aisles where cars could be travelling at up to 30 - 50 km/h.

In the past, serious accidents have occurred through cars crashing into and occasionally through car-park perimeter barriers and cladding. While the requirements outlined above should always be considered, the layout of the car park should be investigated in detail, and any points of particular hazard protected by the installation of additional crash barriers.

Collection of parking fees

The location, function and layout of each car park will influence the selection of the payment system to be adopted.


The requirements are clearly not the same in all car parks and will be greatly influenced, for example, by the nature of the parking demand in the area. In a shoppers' car park a variable charge tariff will usually be necessary in order to favour short-stay parking and encourage rapid turn-round. A commuters' car park, on the other hand, may well be operated more effectively on a fixed-charge basis. Other considerations such as the state of congestion of the surrounding highways and queuing space restrictions within and outside the car park may also be of considerable importance.

The problems of fee collection are far fewer when fixed parking charges are levied which are not dependent on the length of time that the vehicles are parked. However, by introducing a variable tariff, control can be exercised on the type of parking catered for. Unfortunately variable-charge tariffs are the most difficult to operate and require extensive and detailed control for their effective operation.


With any cash business fraud is a great problem, and this is particularly so with car parking. As a result all fee-collection systems, whether manual or automatic in operation, should incorporate comprehensive auditcontrol features. These are not difficult to achieve since the motorist hands his date and time-stamped entry ticket to the cashier or feeds this into an automatic machine, which then calculates the fee due, which is in turn recorded automatically when entered onto a cash register.

Fully automatic systems are also available to aid control. These read from coded information on the ticket the date and time of entry and calculate the fees due. Systems of this type give a greater degree of audit control since there is nothing left to the skill or honesty of the cashier. When a car park is operated in this manner, opportunities for fraud are largely removed, and theft is only likely at the time of collection of money from the payment machine. There can also be scope for remote audit facilities.

Methods of payment

The various methods of payment commonly used are:

(a) Variable charge - ticket issued on entry and payment

to cashier at exit

A ticket is taken by the incoming motorist from an automatic issuing machine. On this ticket the date and time of entry is printed for the benefit of the motorist and can also, if required, be encoded for subsequent identification by automatic payment equipment. The action of withdrawing the ticket from the issuing machine causes the entrance barrier to rise, so permitting the motorist to drive into the car park.

A counter connected to the ticket-issuing machine or machines records the state of occupancy of the car park and will issue tickets to motorists only if vacant space is available within the building.

Parking charges are dependent on the length of stay in the car park, and these are usually collected at a manned kiosk at the exit. On receipt of the appropriate fee, the attendant raises the exit barrier so permitting the motorist to drive out of the car park.

(b) Variable charge - ticket issued on entry and payment to automatic machine at exit

This system is, in principle, exactly the same as that

described in (a) above. The difference is that instead of the parking fee being calculated by an attendant, an automatic machine is located at the exit which calculates the fee due from information encoded on the entry ticket. The fee due is displayed, and the motorist pays coins to the required value. The exit barrier is automatically raised on payment of the full fee.

In practice this type of system has not been found to work at all well since failure of the motorist to have the correct change, coupled with system breakdowns, have often resulted in serious congestion.

(c) Ticket on entry and pay-and-walk on exit

This system is the same as (a) above for entry. For departure there are two variants. On departure, before joining his car, the driver presents his ticket for payment to either an attendant or an automatic machine. When payment is completed the driver receives a ticket or token which he then inserts in a machine at the exit to open the barrier within a fixed period of time.

The advantages ofthis method compared with (a) above are a substantially higher exit-barrier capacity and, with larger car parks, economy in staffing. On the other hand attendance is required to deal with system failure and with user problems that cause delay at exits such as loss or damage to tickets or tokens, and failure to purchase an exit ticket or token. With all automatic systems it is found that it takes some time for users to become familiar with the operation of the equipment, and delays should be anticipated during the initial introductory period.

(d) Pay-and-display car parks

With the pay-and-display system the driver parks his car and then obtains a ticket from one of several machines in the car park. Payment is made on either a fixed - or variable-charge basis that is appropriate to the expected length of stay of the motorist. The ticket should then be displayed inside the vehicle.

The car park is regularly patrolled by wardens whose job it is to check that correct payments have been made by inspecting the tickets on display on the individual vehicles.

The system is frequently adopted by Local Authorities because the initial purchase cost of equipment is lower than with other systems and staffing costs are reduced. They also have the power to enforce penalties for failure to display tickets or make the appropriate parking charge, which is not available to commercial operators.

Operating costs are generally low and the rate of outflow from the car park high since no exit barriers are generally required. However, there are potential snags. These are that:

• illegal parking and consequent loss of revenue will take place

• at busy times there may be a larger proportion of circulating traffic than would be present with more controlled systems

• vehicles are less secure and the tickets displayed can indicate to a potential thief how long the vehicle will be in the car park.

(e) Payment on entry

Payment, normally of a fixed charge, is made at the entrance to the car park either to an attendant or to a cash machine that controls the entrance barriers.

This system is appropriate only where a fixed period of parking is permitted. This could be one hour for a short-stay shoppers' car park, or a day for a commuters' car park at a railway station. With short-stay car parks it is essential for strict enforcement to be practised.

Control of exit

Where unrestricted free parking is provided, or a pay-and-display system is operated, there is generally no need for control equipment at the exits. Lockable gates or other barriers may be required to close the car park when it is out of use, but apart from this, only normal highway traffic control measures would be required. Where control is required, it is common for exit lanes to be controlled by barrier arms. The capacity of an exit lane controlled in this way depends on the system of payment, the car-park layout and configuration and the capacity of the surrounding highway system.

Barriers are frequently damaged either by vandalism or accident. Repair may be effected easily, as shear bolts or breakable plates are incorporated to prevent damage to the mechanism.

Exit lanes may be controlled by rising-step barriers instead of barrier arms as mentioned earlier. While these are more resistant to vandalism, they should be used in conjunction with a traffic signal to ensure that motorists do not fail to note their existence and so cause sever damage to their vehicles.

A completely freely flowing exit can be provided if collapsible traffic plates are installed in the roadway to permit a free outflow of traffic while providing a positive barrier to incoming vehicles. These operate effectively but require maintenance since although robust they can be damaged and so fail to provide an effective barrier to incoming vehicles.

Exit capacities

Estimates of the maximum exit capacities of a single lane governed by the different payment systems are:



Fee-collection system

ticket on entry and payment at a manned exit


ticket on entry and payment to a variable charge accepting machine linked to the exit barrier


ticket on entry and operation of the exit barrier by a prepaid ticket or token


4.2 Pedestrian control Introduction

It has been found that in a shoppers' car park the average vehicle is likely to hold about 1.5 people. A car park housing 600 cars will therefore generate about 900 pedestrians. The safety of pedestrians should, therefore, always be considered, and every car park should be designed with this in mind. While there is fortunately no significant pedestrian accident history in car parks, there are many points of potential conflict between pedestrian and motorists which can be reduced greatly at little cost with careful design.


Pedestrian/vehicle conflict

Proposals have been put forward on various occasions for car parks designed to have segregated pedestrian walkways and so to remove completely the conflict between pedestrian and vehicles. Analysis of such design has shown that they would be extremely expensive to implement and in practice have never been adopted. In general, areas requiring special attention are stair and lift shafts, ramps and aisles.

Stair and lift shafts

It is essential that the entrances to stair and lift shafts are positioned so that pedestrians approaching and leaving the car park and parking floors are subject to the minimum of risk. Particular care should be taken to provide guardrails to prevent pedestrians from walking in front of incoming vehicles.


The split-level arrangement is the most commonly used form of multi-storey car park. With this, the floors are arranged at mezzanine or intermediate levels to reduce the gradient and length of the inter-floor ramps. With split-level car parks it is often impossible to position the main lift and stair shafts so that access to these is provided from all floor levels. In consequence it is usually necessary for pedestrians to walk up or down ramps or stairs, linking the split in level, in order to reach the main lift or stair shaft. If no special provision is made the pedestrian would have to use the vehicle ramps, and in a busy car park this can be a hazardous business. It is therefore recommended that separate pedestrian ramps should be provided to enable a motorist and his passengers to walk to and from the main lift shaft with safety, possibly pushing a pram and/or a shopping trolley. Additional stair flights linking the floors are not nearly as satisfactory.


In the aisles the pedestrian and motorist have to use the same space. The motorist circulating through the car park or parking or unparking his car must be a hazard to the pedestrian, but this is clearly not a major problem since accidents in the main parking aisles are uncommon. Research has shown'f that by using stall markings with short side lines motorists may be encouraged to drive further into the parking stalls and so produce an effective increase in aisle width.


To the car park user, the quality of service is the prime consideration. The designer has to consider how to achieve a satisfactory quality, in terms of user satisfaction, taking into account all those factors that are not considered or perceived by the user.

Technically, the quality of service is normally defined by the waiting interval (the average time before a lift is available to a potential user) and the 5 min. ratio (the percentage of the total population that the lift system can carry in a 5 min. interval). The first ofthese criteria is directly valid for car-park lifts, but the second is the normal worst case, based on the requirements for personal arriving at, say, an office block at the start of work, and is not therefore directly applicable. There is however an analogy that is dealt with below.

In many cases the population using the lifts in 5 min. is calculated from the maximum rate at which cars can enter the car park and the average occupancy of each


car, both factors being determined as part of the traffic study associated with car-park design. However, when the car park is associated with a single building, or building complex such as a shopping precinct, the exodus to the car park at the end of work will constitute the worst case and be akin to the conventional 5 min. ratio.

The lift group(s) should be based on a waiting interval of 4O-60s and a population movement relevant to the particular car-park requirements as defined above. Because the total vertical height of car parks is kept to a minimum there is no opportunity for the lifts normally to make long flights between stops, and the lifts have to be selected on the basis of fairly low speeds.

It is common to assume, for the purpose of lift selection, that they carry 80% of the nominal personnel capacity. Where the car park is associated with shopping centres it is unlikely that lifts will be capable of carrying more than 50% of capacity, and if trolleys are available, this could be optimistic, particularly in small lifts. Door widths must also be adequate for this type of traffic and one lift at least in each group should be suitable for invalid chairs.

As a guide, one-person lift capacity is required per 100m2 of gross leasable area for a food supermarket. This means having two 20-person (Fig. 19) lifts for a 4000m2 store. Of course, the empty trolleys must be returned to the stores who provided them, and trolley collection points should be clearly indicated on each parking level. In addition, staff should be provided to collect these empty trolleys from the parking floors and return them to the supermarkets. This would normally be undertaken outside peak periods, and the passenger lifts would be used. On occasion this may not be possible, and other means of returning these empty trolleys, possibly by the provision of an additional lift, may be necessary.


Trolley Trolley Trolley Trolley
10 Persons
- o o <":"

19. 20 person lift or 4 supermarket trolleys and 10 persons Dimension in metres

In more general planning terms the following points should be taken into account:

• Two lifts operating as a group provide a much better service than two single lifts sited in different parts of the car park (the improvement is even more pronounced for four lifts together rather than two groups of two).

• If lift lobbies are provided at every other parking level suitable ramp facilities must be provided for invalid chairs, prams and trolleys.

• Vandalism can have a marked effect of quality of service. Adequate provision for servicing, maintenance and emergency call out is a partial answer, but reduction of vandalism itself is desirable. Planning that provides better architectural finishes and lighting in lift lobbies should be considered (extended to staircases as well). Many existing schemes have a depressing environment and finishes that are no disincentive to potential vandals.

• In the event of fire either in the car park or in the building(s) with which it is connected, the fire alarm should automatically home the lifts to a predetermined floor, where the doors are then opened and held open. They should then be controllable only by security staff or the fire authorities. The homing floor should be one where escape routes to the outside are available, and it may be a different level depending on whether the fire is in the car park or connected building( s).

• Some alarm facilities should be provided in each lift,

so that in the event of emergencies signals may be relayed to a continuously manned centre.

• The need (should be considered) for standby power supplies for emergency lighting in the lift cars (and lobbies) and for homing the lifts in the event of a power failure.

Disabled persons

While the agile pedestrians may be able to avoid injury, even in a badly designed car park, the disabled, elderly and infirm may find the building too hazardous to use. Under the terms of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act, 1970,13 wide powers are available to Local Authorities to require that provisions are made for the needs of the disabled.

In general, this means that when designing accessways to and from lifts, ramps should be used rather than steps, and facilities should generally be provided for the movement of wheeled chairs. In addition, if public toilets are provided, special provisions should be made for the disabled. It is also good practice to reserve conveniently sited parking stalls for the use of disabled drivers. These may be on the ground floor or near lifts or other access points.



Design and construction of car parks

5.1 Classification of above-ground car parks Car parks may be classified by the form of the deck structures. The various types are as follows:

• flat deck (see Fig. 3)

• split level (see Figs. 4. 5 and 6)

• ramped floor (see Figs. 7, 8 and 9)

• warped slab (see Fig. 10)

Principal ancillary structures are stair and lift towers and access ramps: other structures may be required in special situations.

5.2 Materials and methods of construction for above-ground car parks


Basic materials commonly used in car-park construction are concrete and steel. combined in a variety of ways. Concrete may be both reinforced and prestressed. Steel is used either alone as the principal structural material. or compositely with concrete.

Concrete construction

Concrete car parks may be assembled from precast units or formed in situ. In situ concrete structures may be cast on a wide variety of proprietary form work and falsework systems; the proprietary lift-slab method avoids the use of formwork for some types of car park.

Steel construction

Uncased structural steelwork is now generally acceptable in car-park structures. The use of structural steelwork in above ground car parks received considerable encouragement from the results of research into the potential fire hazard represented by a loaded car park. These tests suggested that existing requirements for fire resistance could be relaxed in certain circumstances, which. in practice. apply to the majority of multi-storey car parks. However, application must still be made on each occasion to the appropriate authority for a relaxation of the existing regulation (see sub-section 7.2). Maintenance costs are likely to be higher for uncased steelwork than for concrete. but the difference is not considered to be great. Self-weathering steel. e.g. Cor-Ten, offers a potential solution to this problem but requires careful detailing to achieve a satisfactory solution.

Composite construction

Car parks in composite construction generally comprise a framework of steel beams and columns supporting concrete floor slabs. The latter usually combine in composite structural action with the steel beams in one or both directions and can be wholly cast in situ or basically precast with in situ joints and topping. Some of the advantage in speed of erection afforded by prefabrication may be lost if wholly in situ construction is adopted for the floor slabs.


5.3 Constraints in above-ground car parks Column positions

The locations available from consideration of circulation and parking positions for cars are:

• between parking bins

• between stalls at a spacing that should only exceptionally be less than 3 stall widths.

The column locations between stalls are further restricted by the needs of opening doors and manoeuvring in and out of bins. The available zones are shown in Fig. 20.

~~tAl i
Interbin A: 0'460 m minimum
support 1m -tI II- 0·800 to '·OOOm
~ zone desirable
'0 B: 3·300m minimum
In iIIE 3'600m desirable
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.0 E E
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~E _ Acceptable
.. support positions
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Bin width 20. Support positions related to parking geometry

A support in the outer zone of B 1m long is acceptable. Dimensions achievable in practice will be affected by structural requirements.


The live loading for car parks is prescribed in CP 3:

Chapter V: Part 110. No additional allowance need be made for vertical impact in any part of the car park. Further development in statistical assessment of loadings may eventually allow refinement of the loading in car parks.

Wind loading is rarely a substantial design constraint; the wind loading should be taken over the whole elevational area of the building. Percolation will obviously take place through an open structure such as a car park, but floor drag on the bodies of parked vehicles will add to the wind resistance of the building. The size of this drag effect is not easily quantifiable, and therefore the limiting condition of an imperforate building should normally be assumed. Reduction of this figure will not normally give an appreciable cost saving because of the relatively low height commonly chosen for car parks.

5.4 Design solutions for above-ground car parks

Precast concrete

Precast-concrete solutions can be classified by the position of the supports. The various classes are:

(i) Clear-span forms: support is provided only on bin divisions. Two basic forms are possible:

(a) where continuous or near continuous support lines are provided at 90° to bin width and spanned with long floor units usually using either a double-Tor a voided floor of similar form (see Fig. 21).

(b) where beams (span) transversely at intervals up to about 7m, beams being about 1m deep, the floor being provided by planks between the beams.

Support module chosen to suit /clear-span units


I 1-

Clear-span: supports on bin divisions


1 r'\ Support beam

may be omitted

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r provided at

1 1 B deck-unit

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n ~B r

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Section B-B

21. Clear-span structures

All the precast elements, floor units, beams and planks, are generally standard pretensioned units. In the case of the beams spanning approximately 16.5m, standard DTp pretensioned inverted-T bridge beams offer a convenient solution.

(ii) Precast car parks with supports between the stalls and balanced cantilever forms are possible: they are, however, rarely adopted.

Precast designs may be produced for all the common structural forms. They are least suitable for a warped slab because of the difficulty in achieving economic connections between the units.

In situ concrete Support positions

The restraints of geometry and circulation provide two basic support positions for in situ parks. These are:

(i) Columns located between stalls generally at 3 stall intervals

(ii) Columns at perimeter and between parking bins.

The spacing in the alternative direction is chosen for

structural economy and commonly being at 2-stall intervals, i.e. about 5m. Although this spacing need not be strictly related to the stall module it is often convenient and simple to use the stall module as a structural grid.

Structural forms

Common structural forms are:

(i) The ribbed slab: this is suitable for long span 15.Sm solutions (see Fig. 22).

(ii) Beam-and-slab construction: this is suitable for the long span, the 4 support, and the cantilever forms (see Fig. 23).

(iii) Flat-plate solutions: these can be either with a flat soffit or take the form of a waffle slab, both forms with and without drops (see Fig. 24).


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22. Ribbed-slab construction

Any of these forms can be post-tensioned, and flat-plate construction using draped un bonded tendons.!" already common in North America, is proving to be economic and gaining in popularity in the UK.

The use of drops and downstand beams will, except for beams at the bin extremeties, give the controlling vertical height that will affect the overall height of the building. Generally toppings should be kept to a minimum of 65mm. The use of a ribbed slab either as a primary structural element or as part of beam-and-slab construction is often convenient since it can provide recesses in which the car-park lighting can be mounted, the downstand ribs giving some protection to the light fittings.

Composite construction Support positions

The geometrical constraints imposed by the requirements of access, circulation and parking are identical with those applying to concrete construction.


Structural form

Car-park structures have relatively long spans and few requirements for services, so many beam layouts are possible. There is interaction between beam layout, slab thickness and method of construction, so that it is difficult to optimize.

There are two basic arrangements for the structural grid in a steel framed car park:


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23. Beam-and-slab construction

(i) where the principal frames run on the bin extremities free of the parking area with secondary beams spanning the full bin width transversely. In this case columns can be placed at any suitable intervals and need not be related to the stall width but should be selected to suit an economical span for the floor slab (see Fig. 25).

(ii) where the main frames span transversely (usually at stall width intervals with columns between the stalls), although transverse frames can be used providing a clear span (see Fig. 27).

The first arrangement allows a rapid erection procedure working to full height along the length of the building; the latter solution provides a lighter weight of steelwork with lighter individual units. Total cost of the building is unlikely to vary significantly with either system.

Space frames have been used in car-park structures; they inevitably require a greater storey height in order to accommodate the increased structural depths.

Floor slabs

The thickness of the concrete slab is usually determined by local bending moments; however, where the ultimate limit state controls the design of the main beams, it may be economic to increase either strength or thickness of



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the concrete slab for composite action. Alternatively the slab may be reduced to a minimum required for punching shear providing support from beams at minimum intervals. Floor slabs can be either wholly in situ or wholly precast. A monolithic topping is usually required to give a deck surface of acceptable regularity (see section 8). Section 8 also contains recommendations for the specification of the concrete to resist wear, frost and the application of de-icing salts.

Secondary beams

Secondary beams are provided at intervals consist ant with the chosen depth of the floor slab. Since secondary beams have the same depth as the primary beams, it is normal that they should span the bin width in clear-span construction so that the more heavily loaded primary beams can have the shorter span. The beam layout shown in Fig. 25 and 26 results in a maximum primary beam bending moment 10% less than for most other spacing of secondary beams if all beams are designed as simply supported.

Beam sections

It is common practice to use a standard universal beam for the steel section. However, this results in the top flange of the steel beam being relatively unstressed in service load conditions when composite action is used. A top flange of adequate width is needed for the attachment of shear connectors and for stability during erection.

Although it is possible to design plate-girder sections welded from three plates, it is not normally economical for non-repetitive structures. It is, however, possible to attach partial length flange plates to the bottom flange of a lighter universal beam for greater economy. By this process the use of a high-strength steel where deflections do not produce the critical limit state is usually an advantage.







25. Typical parking bay construction

Clear-span construction longitudinal main frame

PPE TRES o p~ ~


26. Transverse frame construction clear span or with intermediate columns


In long spans where deflection produces the critical limit state some degree of continuity may be advantageous. When complete continuity is developed, the hogging moments are substantially higher than would be desirable. However, in composite construction using an in situ slab or precast planks with in situ structural topping it is a relatively simple matter to develop partial continuity for superimposed load alone by adding tension reinforcement in the slab and providing a compression connection between the bottom flange of the steel section and the column.


Steel columns are usually cheaper than composite columns, and the choice in practice is between the I-section and the hollow box. The latter can be competitive where the beam layout is such that significant biaxial bending can occur and are certainly more compact and cheaper to maintain. For heavy column loads resulting from wide support spacing it can be economic to fill a tube or hollow box with concrete and design it as a composite section.

Composite design

In positive-moment regions, where the deck slab may be utilized as the compression flange of the composite beam, the economic advantages of subjecting the slab to double duty are obvious.



For the maximum advantage from prefabricated construction floor beams and slabs should preferably be designed to be unpropped in view of the practical difficulties that are involved in propping on site. The dead weight of the parking decks is greater than the live load, and it is necessary to maintain props throughout the entire height of the building, striking from the top downwards, which is a hinderance to following trades.

Protective treatment'l="

Exposed steelwork needs to be protected and have its protective coat maintained; the building may look better if it is repainted regularly. The work of painting may not be acceptable in a very busy car park, but in most situations this work can be done without unacceptable obstruction to use.

Especially where surfaces are not accessible (e.g, bolting surfaces for cladding) long-term protection is required. Hot-dip galvanising is often used in these circumstances, but a high specification must be used.

When considering a protective treatment, the main requirements that must be considered are:

• a reasonably long period between major maintenance

• satisfactory appearance

• good resistance to general atmospheric corrosion

• good resistance to abrasion and vandalism

• ease and effectiveness of maintenance.

The solution proposed will inevitably be a compromise of these five points bearing in mind that the relative importance of these requirements differs for different locations. Protective systems are now available which may give 15 years of life.

A comparison of the cost of providing protection by different methods can be made provided that the durability of the alternative systems can be predicted.

The life of the protective paintwork will be affected to a very great degree by:

• careful control of the initial treatments at the fabricators' works, and of the consequent site coating

• attention to detailed points in the design and specification to avoid weak points where corrosion would start

• regular maintenance of a minor character to avoid deterioration of the underlying treatment, which represents the major capital outlay.

A good initial treatment followed by minor touching up of damaged areas and a repainting every five to seven years is probably preferable to an expensive initial treatment that may last for 15 years but only with much attendant grime and staining.

Care is required in the detailing of the connections to secondary members in order to avoid corrosion.

Weathering steels

Weathering steels, of which Cor-Ten is the best known, are at first sight a possible solution to the cost of initial treatment and maintenance, but designers should satisfy themselves that the sections they require are readily available in weathering steels. It takes about two years to build up a uniform appearance of the oxide coating, and until this occurs a patchy appearance is inevitable. It is possible that a uniform appearance will never develop in protected locations. It is essential that detailing of the building allows for the shedding of the oxide particles in a way that does not result in an unacceptable staining. Rust deposited by water run-off across adjacent hard surfaces of cladding and, in particular, at the bottom of


columns need to be considered in devising appropriate details.


Accidental damage from vehicles and vandalism are problems that arise in all car parks. Steps taken to minimize this are the use of abrasion-resistant coatings combined with the use of guardrails or other protection to protect exposed colomns (subject to maintaining the necessary minimum clearances) and the selection of a suitable primer to resist any rust creep from deep scratches. Regular minor maintenance is also recommended. High kerbs or column muffs are preferred as they avoid space for litter to accumulate.


It is possible that car parks are built in situations where they have a relatively short life, and there is the possibility that the structure can be dismantled and re-erected elsewhere. However, experience shows that this opportunity rarely reaches realization. Additionally the cost of dismantling, re-erection and transportation is not low since new foundations and services connections and ancillaries will be required. Steel structures are the only form of construction easily re-erected.

5.5 Structural discontinuities in aboveground car parks

Movement joints (full lateral discontinuity)

Car parks are generally tolerant of dimensional changes arising from temperature, humidity or loading effects on the structural material. At the same time they are more exposed to the changes of atmospheric conditions since they are rarely completed enclosed. This means they are less likely to experience moisture content differential effects, although the temperature differential between the roof and the floor below is much more significant than it would be in a building where the roof was insulated.

For a structure whose movement is not restrained by a rigid facade and is free to move about one restraint only, movement joints may not be required if no part of the structure is more than 75m from that restraint. In the majority of cases however, movement joints should be provided at not more thanl00m centres, and one joint at least should be placed between any two rigid restraints such as stair towers and transverse or longitudinal ramps. Partial movement joints may, in some cases, be provided in place of full movement joints. It is always prudent to provide additional partial movement joints in the roof deck at no more than 50m centres unless extra reinforcement is placed at the most vulnerable crack lines adjacent to the principal elements of restraint. To enable full movement joints to operate split columns or free-sliding bearings must be provided.

Movement and partial movement joints may be placed at greater intervals than suggested above if care is taken to maintain the continuity of sufficient reinforcement to provide adequate tensile capacity to transmit all of the expected movement to a discontinuity.

Recommendations for movement joints are based on car parks constructed within temperate zones with climates similar to the UK. Particular attention should be paid to movements in split-level car parks above half-columns where they ad join either the exposed roof, or on occasions, where this form of construction is linked to a very rigid structure below such as the retaining wall or crosswall of a building. The designer in this situation

needs to check that the short rigid columns in this location are either supported with a movement joint at each column, or their slenderness is adjusted so that they can accept the expected strain by flexure.

The designer must consider the possibility of damage to the top deck arising from its exposure. Unacceptable cracks are possible if a combination of factors such as high restraint, poor curing and high setting temperatures occur. BS 5400: Part 217 gives information on the design temperature range and differentials appropriate to the British Isles, while CIRIA technical note 10718 provides data to enable the amount of movement to be estimated.


The design of foundations should follow normal practice except that differential settlements greater than those of many other buildings may be accepted. Guidance on this may be obtained from references 19 and 20. However, care must be taken to articulate any potentially stiff continuous members to avoid cracking or unacceptable structural distortion in steel. The lighter weight of a steel-framed structure compared with a concrete frame can have a significant effect on foundation costs in certain soil conditions.21,22 The reduced weight coupled with the structural flexibility provided by this form of construction can permit column loads to be carried by pad foundations accepting some settlement (subject to precautions being taken against damage to finishes or even, possibly, structural concrete), whereas a heavier rigid building on the same site may require to be supported on piles.

The use of lightweight-aggregate concrete should also be considered. In car parks the weight of the concrete slab is almost equal to the live load, and a 25% reduction of this weight is significant, both in the slab and in its effect on column and foundation loads. This must be set against the disadvantages of using lightweight concrete: a reduced permitted span/depth ratio, a slightly reduced effective breadth of flange, an increased number of shear connectors, and a requirement for additional shear reinforcement in the slab.

Deflection limits

The commonly accepted deflection limits can be exceeded in car-park structures since they are not finished with crack-sensitive materials. The following aspects, however, must be evaluated at an early stage in the design:

• the drainage must not be adversely affected, and adequate residual falls must be maintained after full deflection has taken place

• the normal limits of crack control and acceptable strain must be maintained; guidance on these is in CP 11023

• there is no evidence that increased deflections give rise to problems of vibration either with concrete car parks or steel car parks carrying a concrete deck, since the stiffness provided by the main supporting beams in these forms of construction prevents resonance. However, impact at expansion joints, if lips are allowed to occur, may result in greater damage in structures having higher deflections.


The height of non-mechanical multi-storey car parks is limited by practical considerations. The necessary stability to resist lateral loading can generally be obtained without difficulty from any or all of the following:

• external walls - always provided that if these are formed from precast panel elements they are adequately tied-in to the structure

• in the case of larger parking structures, internal walls dividing bins

• walls surrounding and supporting ramp structures.

• walls surrounding and supporting lifts and staircases.

5.6 Cladding General

Few multi-storey car parks can dispense altogether with some form of cladding, although it will form a secondary role in the external envelope compared with cladding to shops, offices, flats and other types of building. Car parks are generally unheated buildings requiring abundant natural ventilation; insulation is therefore not required, and weather shielding cannot be expected to be complete.

Nevertheless something needs to be provided at the edges of the floors to perform a number of essential functions that include: Ib

• restraining cars from running over the edge of the floor for the safety of occupants and of the passers-by

• stopping people from falling out, with particular attention being paid to restraining small children

• providing what degree of rain and wind protection is compatible with natural draught for ventilation to disperse engine fumes and also smoke in the event of a fire

• screening parked cars from external view when the car park is in a position where visible cars would be considered unsightly.

• giving a desirable form, texture or colour to the multi-storey car park in keeping with aesthetic aims in design (see Section 2)

• providing security.

Categories of cladding

Some car parks will be provided with lifts with shafts of solid construction, and many will require fire-protected staircases that, by definition, will be enclosed. In most cases these facilities will be provided on the periphery of the building. These features, in comparison with the natural horizontal banding of the floors, contribute a dominantly vertical emphasis to the exterior of the building. Since these features are mainly constructed of brick and concrete specified as a facing material they rarely need to be provided with cladding. After consideration of the essential functional form of the building and its bare structural materials, the architectural objectives in elevational treatment may be a dominating influence on the choice of method for fulfilling the other requirements of parapets listed above.

The floor parapet may be a skeletal railing or a solid wall. One essential is that no child should be able to get through or easily climb the barrier; another is that no adult should be able to fall inadvertently over the barrier by virtue of it being too low. In addition, CP 3; Chapter V: Part Ito requires that the barrier, either by itself or in combination with an internal energy-absorbing rail, should sustain the vehicle impact force specified in the Code. This specified impact force is higher on ramps or at the ends of long straight runs that it is for the edges of the decks as a whole.

When the car park has external columns they may be incorporated into the parapet/barrier system to provide part of the horizontal resistance. Where the columns are


not on the face of the building it will be necessary to rely on the vertical cantilever of the barrier, either as a continuous wall or by the provision of a series of cantilever posts. Alternatively, structural cladding elements may be attached to the floor edges to span vertically. Narrow members, referred to as mullions or fins, have been used in this way.

CP 3: Chapter V: Part 110 makes detailed recommendations for the analysis of barriers. BS 618011 is also relevant.

It is a sound principle in the design of impact-resistant barriers that they should be intended to fail in a controlled progressive manner.j" In some forms of precast-concrete parapet systems this might best be achieved by limiting the stiffness of some fixings in order to distribute the load to other fixings.

As an alternative to a flexible barrier, a rigid restraint that also forms the parapet of the car park, may be used. allowing the impact energy to be dissipated by crumpling of the vehicle. The design of this barrier can be calculated in accordance with the Codes of Practice; the omission of a separate crash barrier is attractive since the accumulation of litter is avoided and maintenance costs are reduced.

Under the limit-state requirements for accidental damage described in CP 11W3 a load factor of 1.05 is required against failure. CP 3: Chapter 3: Chapter V:

Part 1 states that the prescribed loading should be resisted 'within or beyond the usual serviceability limits for the material.' Therefore it is at the discretion of the designer to decide whether there might be any serious secondary consequences were the parapet system to be allowed to approach its ultimate strength. An important factor to consider in this respect is the possibility that large particles of masonry, concrete or parapet facing material might be dislodged and fall on passers-by at street level.

There have been many composite solutions to the parapet problem, providing different elements for different purposes, using one item such as a simple guardrail to stop pedestrians, another such as a baffle board of timber to take the first touch of a vehicle bumper, another to absorb the main energy of collision and another to produce the elevational effect (and to disguise the composite assembly from the outside). This technique may well be the most practical since, from the maintenance point of view, it might be easier to remove a light cheap and flexible internal board than to deal with the chips, cracks, stains and abrasions that would occur on the inside of the main structural parapet. In addition, kerbs have been used to deter vehicles from approaching the edges of floors. Such techniques are perhaps of greater benefit to the car owner than to the car-park operator since the impact absorbed by kerbs and rubbing strips is however likely to be a small part only of the design impact load. Spring posts may also be used to keep cars away from the edges. By normal definition, cladding does not form part of the essential structure of a building. However, just as mullion frames, and H-, Vand U-panels have been used as loadbearing external panels in buildings they might also be used for car parks and in the process effectively provide what cladding is required. In general, horizontal or vertical panels or ribs used purely as cladding could be-designed in accordance with CP 29725, CP 29826, the precast concrete cladding reporr" of the Joint Committee of the Institution of Structural Engineers, the Concrete Society, the RIBA and the British Precast Concrete Federation, and CIRIA notes for guidance.j"



It should be emphasized that in the design specification and in the supervision of fixings for cladding it is of the utmost importance to envisage the natural free movements of the structure and to provide the necessary articulation or sliding action of some fixtures so as to limit the load on all fixings to their design value. Only in this way will the essential safe life of the cladding be preserved. Fixing systems that can be inspected are to be preferred to those that cannot. Since it is not always possible to provide invisible fixings, corrosion-resistant materials should be selected, and a high factor of safety on anchorage systems and material durability should be ensured. In addition to making a general appraisal of the fixings and fastenings available, the designer should take into account BS 405030 and CIRA technical note 5131 when evaluating claims for the performance of proprietary fixing devices.

5.7 Underground car parks

The basic geometric and spatial design requirements for underground car parks are similar to those for aboveground usage, but the high cost per unit volume requires closer attention to the efficient use of space. Particular attention is necessary in the planning of the mechanical services with their ducts and plant layout; the provision of smoke venting needs study to achieve the minimum smoke-vent space consistent with proper operation.

The structural design will probably be most economic when minimum floor depths are adopted, even though the elemental cost for the floor may not be the minimum. Guidance on deflection limits is given in subsection 5.5.

The shape may be dictated by reasons other than those of the car park, e.g. the shape of available site, surface landscaping or surrounding surface road patterns. In this event the circulation will be adjusted to suit the designated shape. Underground garages below buildings are likely to be constrained by the building arrangement above. The circulation may have to be different from the optimum for car-parking purposes to allow for columns, walls and such supports for the building above.

5.8 Design criteria for underground car parks Geometry and circulation

The same data for dynamic capacity and geometry apply to underground car parks as those generated for aboveground use. However, although minimum geometric standards will be considered initially by the designer because of the high space cost, they should not be adopted without studying the probable pattern of use for a car park.

High turnover rates with short-duration stays are likely with the high tariffs that will be required to off-set the capital cost of underground parks. The minimum stall widths of 90° parking may not be appropriate for the geometry of these parks.

Fire precautions

Inner London boroughs

In buildings (but excluding those of excess height and/or cubical extent) the structural separation is governed by the London Building (Constructional) By-Laws 1982.32 In the generality, each element of construction of any basement (including the floor over the basement) must have a fire resistance not less than twice that required for the building above ground. By virtue of the Petroleum

(Consolidation) Act 1928,33 sprinklers are normally required for basement car parks, but the requirements may be waived where the floor area is less than 464.5m2, the number of cars parked does not exceed 12, and there is natural permanent ventilation having a cross-sectional area not less than 21/2% of the floor area.

It is unlikely that natural ventilation could be provided in a sub-basement. Buildings of excess height and/or cubical extent, are covered by Section 20 of the By-Laws. Both structural separation and the provision of sprinklers is governed by the GLC code of practicer" Appendix B, Part II, of the GLC code requires fourhour separation. Clause Bl.08 requires automatic sprinklers in the generality but indicates that a relaxation may be permitted in circumstances similar to those already described.

England and Wales, including outer London boroughs Construction is governed by The Building Regulations 1976.35 Car parks come within purpose group VIII (Storage and general), and from Table A Regulation E5 it is clear that again in basement construction (including the floor cover) fire-resistance requirements are twice that of a building above ground. The installation of sprinklers is required by virtue of the Petroleum (Consolidation) Act 192833 and the considerations already described would again apply.

A number of authorities have acquired additional local powers to deal with basement car parks. It is likely that requirements would be derived from or inspired by the Post War Building Studies no. 28.36

No regulations are provided for the fire rating of totally below-ground car parks; commonly a fire rating of two hours for the basic structure has been adopted. However in view of the low fire load it would seem reasonable to accept lower standards in the future.

Scotland and Northern Ireland

Similar regulations apply to Scotland'? and Northern Ireland'" as to England and Wales.

Smoke precautions and extraction

Should fire occur in an underground car-park, the main problem is the generation of smoke. Two basic precautions are required:

(i) Means of escape

A means of escape so that the public can leave the danger zone rapidly. Generally escape routes should be not more than 30m distance from any part in the park, i.e. the escape should be at no more than 60m intervals. Ramps should be designated as escape routes (see Section 7). Escape routes should either be freely vented to the open air, or lead to an escape route that is positively charged by mechanical ventilation relative to the remainder of the car park. This positive pressure should not be less than 10mm (water gauge). The use of positively charged escape routes is particularly valueable if the car park lies beneath landscaped areas where direct vertical access to the open air may not be acceptable to the layout of the landscaping of the area above the car park.

In general not more than 6 floors of car-parking (i.e. 6 complete floors, 2 split levels counting as a floor) are acceptable because ofthe need to provide escape routes where the public can climb the stairs to the open air without distress.

This recommendation is also consistent with

lengths of search path and limits in number of levels to prevent disorientation (see Section 3).

(ii) Removal of Smoke


Provision must be made to remove smoke generated by any fire, independent of any mechanical ventilation systems of the car park itself. Mostly this is provided by vertical smoke extract ducts leading to sealed pavement lights at the upper extremity of the duct. Commonly in the past 2V2% of the surface area of each floor has been required in these ducts, but more recently the use of model tests has demonstrated that effective and efficient smoke extraction can be achieved with duct areas as low as 0·4%. Small-scale models with a scale ratio of 1:50 formed of transparent plastic are suitable for such tests. 39


Details of mechanical ventilation are given in Section 6.

Mechanical services

Detailed requirements are given in Section 6. This clause lists general requirements to be considered at outline proposals stage.

Underground car parks require full mechanical ventilation with about 6 air changes per hour, although this will be exceeded locally to keep below an acceptable CO content. Because of the need for low storey heights it is usually necessary to provide inlet and extract grills at close intervals throughout the car park space. Ventilation ducts may be run at the intervals between the parking bins, provided that the pedestrian ways do not require to cross the line of these ducts since then they will project below the prescribed 2.050m headroom. Where ventilation ducts require to cross the pedestrian ways of the aisles of the car park, the normal prescribed headroom must be maintained. Underground car parks benefit greatly if an integrated design approach to both mechanical services and structure can be adopted. The most common advantage in design is the use of a voided floor so that ducts can be accommodated within the structural zone of the floor where they need to cross access ways.

Air is usually admitted to the car park at the ambient condition of the outer air without filtration or heating, hence resulting from the relatively large air movements required of about 6 air changes per hour, the comfort levels within an underground car park may be lower than those in the outside air. This is usually acceptable from the viewpoint of the user, but attendants' rooms must be heated, and all services must be lagged against frost. Sprinkler systems should be of the empty-pipe type.


The ventilation plant is commonly situated in the upper levels of the car park or immediately above the park. Noise levels are rarely unacceptable within the park itself, natural attenuation being achieved within the ductwork system. However, the noise outside the plant room in the surrounding area may be unacceptable. It will usually be necessary to provide attenuators at the inlet to the ventilation fans. The designer must consider the possibility of noise within the car park escaping through holes, including the entrance and exit openings. Landscaping may also be used to screen noise sources. This problem is discussed further in subsection 6.3.



It is customary to lay the floors of underground car parks to falls so that they can be hosed down to allow melting snow to discharge to gulleys if this is brought in by cars in winter. Although it is customary to lay floors to falls, consideration may be given to laying floors substantially flat or to lesser falls except in the areas immediately adjacent to the entry way since experience shows that melting snow causes relatively few problems, and hosing is usually accompanied by using a squeegee on the floors so drainage falls may not be required. Open drainage should not traverse escape ways.

Site investigation

A detailed site investigation is required before making outline proposals for an underground car park. This must include a study of at least the following factors:

• Soil conditions

• the water regime that exists in the area

• an evaluation of the change in this water regime following the installation of the car park

• a study of the adjacent structures and the movements in the ground following the installation of the car park and the loss of support that this may occasion; this point is particularly important in over-consolidated materials.t"

5.9 Methods of construction and structural design for underground car parks= 41, 42 General

The method of construction often becomes the principal design constraint in generating the geometry and structure of underground car parks.

Types of car park

Basically there are two types of underground car parks:

(i) Those below buildings where the shape of the car

park is usually controlled in varying degrees by the shape of the building above: the column positions in the car park are generated by integrating the design of the car park with the building above. The use of a transfer slab where the geometry of the grid is changed is usually expensive and not adopted unless there are very particular reasons for its use.

(ii) Parks below open spaces such as squares, sports areas, public parks or similar areas. Their peripheral geometry is either controlled by the method of construction or the geometry of circulation. The subsequent landscaping of the area above may affect the structure of the car park in its upper levels both in structural strength and in level to accommodate tree boxes and planting requirements.

Methods of construction

The methods of construction are identical to those for constructing deep basements in city centres. Sometimes these methods are directed at avoiding temporary works and using the permanent structure of the finished building to provide temporary support as excavation proceeds. Obviously they are unlikely to be used unless traditional temporary support is abnormally expensive. The selection of the method depends critically on soil conditions.

In outline the following methods are available: (a) Peripheral walls

Diaphragm-walling techniques using bentonite muds are available.


(b) Caisson-sinking techniques where the entire shell of the park is sunk as a monolithic periphery

A simple circular or square shape is desirable for this form of construction

(c) Use of contiguous pile walls

This is suitable for ground that does not contain large supplies of free-flowing water. Sheeting piling or cast in situ bored piles may be used. The shape of the periphery of the car park may adopt a circular form allowing a horizontal arch to provide temporary support; this facility may also be used within the permanent structure.

(d) Floors or parts of the building installed from the upper floor downwards, excavation taking place beneath the floors as they are constructed so that the floors may be used to provide horizontal propping forces for the walls progressively as the contained space is excavated.

(e) Cut-and-cover method

This may be adopted where adequate lateral space is available to permit the side of the excavation to be formed at a suitable angle.

5.10 Landscaping of underground car parks Design criteria

The following design criteria apply:

The soil reinstated over the garage roof must be properly drained; since the garage roof must be impermeable and approximately horizontal, adequate drainage in the applied cover must be provided to prevent saturation of the superimposed soil. However, this drainage should, in each case, be adapted to the needs of the selected vegetation.40,43-45

Control of moisture conditions

The cost of supporting vegetation over the underground park is often high, as complete control of moisture conditions through adequate drainage and regular water supply (adapted to each area and its plants) is essential. Therefore three conditions with varying forms of planting are suggested:

• Shallow rooted plants

A minimum of 200mm of soil should be used and a succession of top soil, peat and filter provided. The top soil should have adequate nutrients incorporated in it and provision made for water to maintain the vegetation. Where it is of critical importance to restrict weight,


Topsoil 0·'00-1·200 m


approximately 0-200 m

kJ~II~~FibreglaSS lilter

,-Sintered expanded clay 0060 - 0·200 m at drain



27. Typical section through planting

Note: Material specifications to be added: drainage details diagrammatic

a minimum of 150mm of soil and filter material can be used; in this case plants should be restricted to those that will grow in impoverished soil conditions. In countries where vegetation is acclimatized to temporary withdrawal of water, the type of vegetation available will more easily accept the transient arid conditions. This approach may be possible in the drier parts of Great Britain but should be adopted only after careful and extensive consultation with an horticulturalist. The structural slab should be laid to falls. A permeable layer of glass-fibre mat or similar material should be laid over this to prevent clogging with the overlying loam.

• Normal vegetation

A succession of top soil, peat, filter and free-draining water retaining material should be provided. The underlying slab should be laid to falls, and drains should be set to avoid complete removal of the water from the soil structure. Fig. 27 shows a typical detail.

• Tree boxes

About 1 V2m soil is required to accommodate trees. Their general layout should be planned in consultation with a landscape architect, who should also advise on the long-term management and after-care of the system. The weight of large trees is such that the cost of supporting them is high; for economy they should therefore be placed over the support positions for the car park. An arborculturist should be consulted on the selection of the various types of trees, and each plant container should be individually considered to ensure that it suits the proposed growth. The following factors should be taken into account:

(a) A water reservoir should be provided at the bottom of the tree box using a soil system similar to that recommended for general planting; this will prevent roots seeking water travelling into the drainage system.

(b) Overturning moments arising from wind on the trees must be catered for in the structural design; in general this can be calculated from a percolation factor of 50% coupled with the projected elevation of the chosen tree at maturity.

(c) Overturning loops or an overhanging ring below or immediately at the soil surface should be provided to ensure the anchorage of the tree within its box. Provision should be made either for artificial watering of the tree or to divert drainage from surrounding hard areas into the tree box.

In all systems the underlying waterproofing should be protected from damage during normal horticultural maintenance. If the waterproofing is omitted the client or organisation responsible for maintenance should be given written instruction on techniques to be adopted during horticulture which should clearly illustrate the soil system that has been installed.


In all cases the proper maintenance of vegetation is important, and a design manual should be prepared by the design team to ensure that proper after-care is continued by the maintenance staff.

Water features

Waterfeatures are often a valuable addition to landscaping. They are usually heavy and therefore their siting should follow the same principles as tree boxes. Two approaches are possible in waterproofing: (i) to provide a single layer with provision for rapid drainage should a failure occur during the life of the building, or (ii) to provide a double layer with a drained cavity between the membranes; this allows maintenance of the preliminary waterproofing to be undertaken during routine maintenance.

The second approach is slightly more expensive but is a useful device where the water feature is of critical importance in the civic scene.



Lighting, heating and ventilation

6.1 Lighting General

Lighting is necessary for the operation of a car park, because of the aversion that users in general have to entering completely unlit spaces. In some instances day lighting may be made use of when it is available, but in most cases the initial planning of the car park will mean that artificial lighting will have to be used for most of the time.

The principle objectives in car-park lighting design should include the employment of lighting not only to assist the safe movement of cars but to mark access route and illuminate parking bays to assist manoeuvring, to minimize vandalism and to present a reasonably attractive appearance commensurate with the environment of associated or adjacent buildings. Experience suggests that vandalism in enclosed areas is a function of the environment, and in this regard, improved lighting in particular can do much to help in alleviating the problem.

The nature of car-park structures normally inhibits the scope of the lighting designer, but nevertheless an early association with the architect and structural engineer may well produce, within a reasonable budget, a better considered, visually attractive, easily maintained, practical lighting solution. The restricted head clearance in multi-storey car parks presents a unique problem in that a reasonably even illuminance over the whole area, as would normally be provided in commercial and industrial buildings, can be achieved only at prohibitive cost. This problem is caused mainly by the limited mounting height and type of lumina ire employed, which will require to be located on or in the structural slab at a space/height ratio not greater than 1 to 1·5.

Illumination standards

Having established the basic criteria and concluded that the normal practice of providing even illuminance over the whole floor area has to be abandoned, it is pertinent to indicate what illuminance values, and what contrast ratios might be acceptable. The illuminance levels detailed below are the minimum acceptable standards, and increases of up to 100% would be visually desirable. The minimum levels occur at the greatest distance from the luminaires, and the uniformity (i.e. the average to minimum) ratio should not exceed 3 to 1.


service illuminance, lux

30 at floor level

parking bays access route,

including ramps 50 at vertical walls

entrances and exits 150 at floor level

At entrances where vehicles can move suddenly from bright sunlight into the relatively dark interior of the car park, it may be advisable to consider speed restriction. If


this cannot be done the lighting installation has to be substantially reinforced in this area to provide an illuminance of up to 1000 lux. Alternatively, sufficient time can sometimes be allowed for the eyes to become adapted to the reduced illumination level by providing external shading to reduce the contrast ratio between inside and outside illumination.

As significant contrast ratios may obtain between well lighted access routes and the less well lighted parking bays, it is important in the interests of recognition to maintain a good colour contrast between the columns, floor and ceiling, to avoid veiling glare arising either directly from luminaires or by reflection from hard glossy surfaces, and to provide, as far as is practicable, light coloured surfaces in order to improve reflection and hence background luminance. For instance, light grey concrete has a reflectance of about 55% and mottled grey tiles 75%

Access routes should be well illuminated, reasonably free from glare and should provide clear visual routeguidance to the driver by the placing of luminaires and by the contrast in illuminance with adjoining stalls. The possible arrangements are necessarily limited, but two commonly employed alternatives are as follows:

• luminaires located directly over the centre-line of the access route, with subsidiary luminaires over the stalls

• two lines of luminaires, located at each side of the access route with spill lighting illuminating the stalls.

The former method has the merit of strong route indication, and where the centre-line luminaires are surface mounted, the stall luminaires can be recessed or otherwise optically controlled so that there is no visual confusion with the route markers. The latter alternative has the merit of greater economy, but it is important that separation between the parallel lines is not so great as to give the appearance of a dark ceiling between.

An analysis of some current installations indicates the lighting load will be generally between 47-65 W per car space and 2·5-3·3 W/m2 of floor area.

Selection of electrical equipment (general requirements) Each local authority may apply its own particular regulations, but for general guidance, the GLC London Fire Brigade (Petroleum Branch) Code of Practice'" for underground garages or car parks requires electrical equipment (including electric lamps), if installed below the general garage floor level or within the air stream of an extract ventilation system, or in other hazardous positions, to be of certified flameproof pattern (Group II gases).

Where such equipment is installed at garage floor level or within 1· 2m above floor level, it should be of a type suitable for use in Division 2 areas (see BS 413747• All electrical equipment is, in any event, required to be suitably protected against mechnical damage and should be totally enclosed.

Choice of luminaires

Luminaires should be sealed and robustly constructed with anti-corrosion finishes since they are often called on to operate in cold and damp conditions. Where construction permits, it will normally be advantageous to employ recessed construction, which offers both visual and practical advantages in increased clear headroom and better protection against vandalism. Glazing should be dust-tight and vandal resistant by using either a thick prismatic glass lens or a thick polycarbonate prismatic diffuser secured with secret screw fixings.

The foregoing basic requirements naturally influence the selection of equipment, but for general use at ceiling level in car parks the choice is usually made from a range of commercial fluorescent batten-type luminaires, preferably suitable for use in Division 2 areas, or enclosed bulkhead-type luminaires suitably certified and fitted with high-pressure mercury lamps that have good lumen maintenance and high luminous efficacy.

When exceptional life is required in situations where, for example, maintenance is a problem, consideration should be given to the sintered electrode fluorescent tube (SEFf). The initial cost is about 30% higher over the 1·5m single fluorescent tube enclosed-type luminaire, but the tube life is at least 3 times (i.e. 20000 h), and the cost difference would be recovered easily at the first change of the cheaper alternative. The SEFf tube has most of the attractive characteristics of cold-cathode tubing, can be tailor made to any shape and, in particular, is available is 2-, 4-, or 6-leg type to suit a 600mm square luminaire, with lumen output equivalent to 80, 125 and 250W high-pressure mercury (MBF) lamps, ideal for recessing in a coffered slab to provide a clean ceiling with maximum clear headroom and little or no glare. Lighting of this type can also be provided by the Ll-tube hot-cathode lamp, which is used a great deal in the USA.

Bulkhead-type luminaires will normally incorporate a high-pressure mercury lamp. Since this is more nearly a point source, it must be carefully employed if glare is to be avoided. It can be used to advantage to illuminate parking bays, but particular care must be taken to control the light output, to achieve a low glare factor and to avoid confusion with the linear sources marking the access routes.

The tungsten-halogen lamp in the miniature 'shovel' flood-type luminaire, mounted at high level, has a useful application in open rooftop parking areas. The lamp is extremely small in size, is available in wide range of outputs, but has a relatively short objective life (normally 2 000 h) and only modest luminous efficacy of about 18 ImIW. Because of the relatively short life this type of fitting should be mounted so that access is convenient. High-pressure mercury or high-pressure sodium (SON) lamps in conventional floodlight fittings can be employed as an alternative. MBF and SON units have luminous efficacies of about 50 and 100 ImIW and an objective life of 5500 and 6000 h, respectively.

Circuit arrangement Normal lighting

When daylight penetration in above ground multi-storey car parks is significant, a marked saving in running costs may be achieved by dividing the lighting circuits. The inner area can be continuously illuminated while the peripheral lighting is switched out during daylight hours, and can be switched manually or automatically by photoelectric cells. Lighting in underground car parks

should generally be switched remotely and selectively, floor by floor, to provide maximum economy in the use of electrical energy as floors come into use or are vacated.

Security lighting

Security lighting will be required along the routes taken normally be security personnel, and these will certainly include stairs, lift lobbies and ramps. The circuits may be part of, but should be separated from, general lighting and be controlled from a central point.

Emergency lighting

Emergency or escape lighting is that which is provided in addition or as an alternative to normal lighting for the safety of persons, particularly for providing assistance in their movement and escape during failure of the normal lighting. Guidance in the provision of emergency lightin§ will be found by reference to CP3: Chapter IV: Part 34 , and Fire Precautions Act 197149, which is further amplified by a Home Office Guide'", When emergency lighting is installed it should be supplied from a battery or battery inverter arranged to monitor mains supply at each floor level and should switch in automatically on local-circuit and/or mains-supply failure. The inclusion of emergency lighting circuits and lamps into the security lighting luminaires may well be an attractive alternative to providing separate luminaires.

6.2 Heating General

The principal heating problem in car parks is associated with the melting of ice and snow. It is worth remembering that ice and snow can be melted in two ways:

• the surface temperature maintained above freezing point (which may be expensive).

• chemicals (mainly common salt) used to depress the freezing point of water and prevent the formation of ice.

The first method will work in all circumstances provided that enough energy is available, but it can be expensive to use. The second method has the disadvantage that it is labour intensive and is therefore normally practicable only when maintenance staff is readily available as and when the problem arises.

A point that should be remembered is that the slab falling below freezing point alone is not sufficient to create ice. Water has also to be present. Except in special circumstances therefore, only exposed ramps need to be heated.


Exposed ramps are the only extensive heating problem encountered in the design of multi-story and underground car parks.

In winter conditions with persistent low temperatures, the surface of the ramp will ultimately fall below freezing point, and any precipitation in the form of condensation or rainfall will be converted to frost or ice. Likewise any snow that falls will become compacted and frozen. One way to prevent this occurring is to provide sufficient heat to prevent the surface falling below freezing point, and the aim of surface heating should be to do just this. Heating can be carried out using a low-voltage supply to mats of steel mesh, or by using a mains-voltage supply to single-core heating elements.

As the running costs of such heating can be high, careful consideration should be given to the choice of


sophisticated detection devices for switching on the system as late and for as short a period as possible.

In these days of high energy costs it is worth examining the possibility of designing the car park so as to exclude the presence of exposed ramps and thereby completely eliminating the need for heating.

For reasons of economy it is normal practice to design only for normal low-temperature conditions and not to attempt to melt snow as fast as it falls. This approach is inevitably one of designing to achieve an acceptable failure rate rather than eliminate all danger of freezing taking place in any conceivable circumstances. This is probably justified when one considers that the energy requirements to melt snow could be several times that required to design to a slightly lower standard. Thermometers can be used to find out when there is any danger and warning notices placed or salt used to alleviate the short-term problem.

As the design is normally based on an acceptable failure rate it is normally sufficient to design for steady-state conditions rather than considering the more complex set of circumstances that occur in transient conditions. Over large heated areas it may be economically viable to reduce the heat floor downwards by incorporating an insulating layer beneath the cables.

The electrical loads that result from ramp heating are normally in the range of lOO-180W/m2•


Underslab heating may be necessary in certain circumstances when parking takes place on open roofs, as driving on frozen snow at this height can prove a disturbing experience for someone not familiar with such conditions.

In city centres, deteriorating road conditions will inevitably mean a reduction in both road traffic and car-park utilization. Closing the roof area can therefore often eliminate this problem and eliminate the need for heating together with the attendant financial penalty on the car-park owner, both from increased capital cost and increased running cost, and still leave adequate space and facilities for car-park users.

If the car-park is associated with a building and is for staff use, adverse road conditions reduce the car-parking requirements only minimally. The consequences therefore of being unable to use a substantial area of this car park, even for only a few days a year, could be quite severe financially, and may in the eyes of the building owner justify the expenditure.

Space heating

Cars are suitable for use in all but the most severe weather conditions, and in the UK it is unnecessary to provide heating to protect vehicles from the cold, assuming that all normal precautions (e.g. the use of anti-freeze) have been taken.

In naturally ventilated car parks it is not possible to achieve reasonable comfort conditions economically, and heating is therefore normally carried out only when it is a specific client requirement. With enclosed car parks, unit heaters are a common solution to the problem when a heating system is required, but the motors and associated starting gear should meet the requirements for electrical equipment laid down in subsection 6.l.

The only area that need heating to provide comfort conditions are the occupied spaces, e.g. toilets, offices and pay booths. When the car park forms part of a larger development and a heating system is provided for the


remainder of the building, the car-park toilets and offices can normally be supplied with heat from the main heating source. When this is not practicable, electric convectors or tubular heaters can provide a satisfactory solution. Pay booths can be dealt with in a similar way if they are constructed in an unenclosed space, but if they are situated in an area where exhaust fumes are likely to become concentrated they would be supplied with tempered fresh air.

6.3 Ventilation Reasons for ventilation

Ventilation has to be provided in car parks to avoid the risk of fire and explosion arising from petrol fumes, and to prevent injury to health from the toxic gases present in vehicle exhausts. The most critical of the contaminants is the carbon monoxide emitted from the exhausts of petrol engines, and as it is impossible to extract it locally, dilution ventilation has to be used.

Natural ventilation

Where car parks are situated above ground every effort should be made to use natural ventilation. The natural ventilation rate is very much dependent on the wind speed and direction, but the provision of permanent ventilation openings to the external air in the two opposing longer sides can, infavourable conditions, provide sufficient cross-flow ventilation. In this case the openings in each of the two sides should have at each level and aggregate area of at least 2V2% of the area of the parking space at that level (making a total of at least 5% per floor) and being so distributed as to provide effective cross ventilation. This can normally be deemed to provide satisfactory ventilation and will normally be considered favourably in requests for relaxation of the relevant requirements of the Building Regulations for this type of building.

Mechanical ventilation

In cases where adequate provision for natural ventilation cannot be provided a mechanical extract system has to be installed.

When the air flow required has been calculated, the plant should be arranged so that it can be run in two equal parts each capable of handling half the maximum air-flow rate when run separately, and so controlled that in the event offailure of one part, the other will continue to function. A secondary source of electrical supply should be provided to ensure that one part of the ventilation plant continues to operate in the event of a failure occurring in the principal source of supply.

The ventilation rate should be so arranged that the carbon monoxide level present in the car park does not exceed the following levels:

general car-park area normal


entrance and exit tunnels with transient occupancy only

50 ppm 100 ppm

250 ppm

The calculation of the air-change rate necessary to maintain these levels should be made using the rate of carbon monoxide emission from the vehicle exhausts taking into account the concentration of carbon monoxide that may be present in the air supplied.

The quantity of air to be supplied by the ventilation system can be calculated using the following formula:

Q=nx 106/(Cr-Cs)

where Q=supply air rate, m3/h

n=number of engines running simultaneously x=rate of CO emission per engine, m3/h Cr=permissible concentration of CO in car park,


Cs=concentration of CO present in supply air, ppm

The value of x in average conditions can be obtained from Table 6.

Table 6 Rate of CO emmission per engine

type of vehicle

CO emitted

1-47 m h (0'41Iitre/s) 2·52 m3/h (0·70 litre/s)

5 passenger car 7 passenger car

In some cases where the level of pollution is constantly varying it is possible to reduce the air volumes slightly by modifying the equation to allow for the fact that the build-up in the concentration of carbon monoxide takes place eXRonentially.

Work 1 carried out for the Detroit Bureau of Industrial H ygeine indicated that on average about 1·23 % of the vehicles present will have their engines running simultaneously, with short peaks that are higher than this. These peaks are closely related to the maximum possible traffic flow rate into the car park and are normally equivalent to about 3.5% of the total car-park capacity.

It is recommended that the supply air-rate calculation is carried out twice, first using the anticipated average traffic flow rate and a permissible concentration of 50 ppm and secondly using the anticipated peak traffic flow rate and a permissible concentration of 100 ppm. The higher value will then be used as the design flow rate. As a check it is anticipated that in periods of light usage the air-change rate will be between 3 and 6 per hour and in conditions of heavy usage it will vary between 5 and 8 per hour. The actual values vary depending on ratio between the volume of the car park and its vehicular capacity.

It has been shown+' that in simulated city-centre driving conditions the fuel consumption is more closely related to the weight of the vehicle than the engine capacity.

Noise levels

When mechanical ventilation is used care should be taken to ensure that external noise levels are not excessive. This may necessitate a noise survey of the area in question if information on the district is not readily available. This should take place during the period in which it is anticipated that the ventilation plant will operate. From this survey it will be possible to determine an acceptable noise level. This noise level should be specified in dBA at a distance of 1m from the louvre face.

In so far as noise liberated to the car park by the ventilation system is concerned, this seldom causes

problems, but care should be taken to ensure that the noise level internally is not so high that it can cause annoyance when escaping through the entrance and exit openings. Local authorities have powers to limit noise levels.53

General recommendations

The recommendations below are made in connection with car-park ventilation design. In some cases the items are not within the direct control of the building services engineer, but he should bring these to the attention of the other members of the design team when he feels that they will contribute to improved economy in his design.

1. Ventilation rates for car parks should be based on the dilution of the carbon monoxide produced in them. This would avoid penalizing car parks with large volume/car ratios and would ensure that car parks with low volume/car ratios are adequately ventilated. Experience suggests that the ventilation system should be designed so that the carbon monoxide level does not exceed 50 ppm and does not, if possible, exceed 100 ppm during peak traffic periods. If the level of carbon monoxide can rise to 250 ppm in a localized area of transient occupancy this must be made clear to the operator of the car park. This fact must be taken into account in the scheduling of maintenance work. A 30 min exposure at 250 ppm is as severe as 8 h at 50 ppm.

2. Entrance and exit tunnels (when necessary) should be kept as short as possible so that the movement of cars will create adequate ventilation. Their relationto ticket machines and pay booths should be such that cars are not forced to queue in confined spaces unnecessarily.

3. When possible the pay booths should be located in the open air and not in a confined space, otherwise it may be necessary to provide a plenum ventilation system for the pay booth.

4. When mechanical ventilation is provided the system should be designed to that two plants each handle half the required extract volume, and a standby electrical supply provided for one plant. The standby generator should be able to supply either plant. A suitable air supply should be arranged to the generator plantroom for fuel combustion, engine cooling and general ventilation.

5. If there are toilets at the garage level without direct access for fresh air, a supply and extract system will be required for them on the usual lines for internal lavatories.

6. Fresh-air intakes should be arranged so that they draw in clean air; if the air is already polluted the ventilation rate will have to be adjusted accordingly. In some instances the only way to ensure drawing in unpolluted air will be to situate the fresh-air intake at roof level.

7. Traffic arrangements should be checked. If cars have to travel through the lower levels of the car park to reach the higher ones, then an allowance may have to be made in the design of the ventilation system.



7.1 Fire prevention

The risk of fire breaking out in a multi-storey car park is not great; furthermore the risk of serious danger to occupants of car-park buildings arising from any fire is even less, but it must be remembered by designers and car-park managers that steps should be taken to minimize this risk to the full. The risk of cars catching fire is greatest immediately after their arrival in the car park when the driver is still in the vicinity. This adds force to the argument that extinguishers should be made available for immediate use so that the risk of fire in one vehicle spreading to another could be reduced still further. Perhaps the greatest risk of fire comes from petrol spillage, which is most likely when a car owner is thoughtless enough to be pouring petrol into his tank. Warning notices against such a practice are therefore desirable.

Unfortunately arson cannot be entirely ruled out, and measures to improve the general security of car parks help to reduce the possibility of fire through this cause. Supervision to ensure that no rubbish or other materials are stored in car parks is essential. The fire officer's advice should always be obtained on appropriate fireprevention measures.

It is the Eurpose of several building regulation requirements 2,35,37,38 to prevent a serious spread of fire by compartmentation and by adequately fire-resistant boundary walls. These requirements and provisions for ensuring an adequately fire-resistant structure are reviewed in subsection 7.2

7.2 Fire resistance

The standard of structural fire resistance required is normally measured in relation to values determined by the fire test described in BS 476: Part 854. In England and Wales an appropriate value for the standard of structural fire resistance for multi-storey car parks as a whole or for different parts of the structure should be decided in relation to the Building Regulation requirements.P For multi-storey car parks these are currently determined by regulation E5, purpose group VIII (Storage and general). These standards can sometimes be reduced, and government circulars= giving guidance on cases for possible exemption based on a more careful analysis of the following practice and circumstances:

• the volume of the building

• the height of the building

• the use of basement construction

• the degree of natural ventilation

• in the absence of natural ventilation, the provision of adequate smoke control

• the distance from the boundary or the distance to other buildings

• the use category of other parts of the same building or adjacent buildings


Fire considerations

• the accessibility of the car park to fire-fighting appliances

• the spacing and adequacy of fire-protected pedestrian escape stairs

The local fire officer should always be consulted when proposals covering the above items have been drawn up. The advisability of providing hydrants, dry risers, hose reels and fire extinguishers should be discussed with the fire officer. It should be remembered that sprinklers and hydrants may be vulnerable to interference by vandals. Hydrants and hose reels may be rendered ineffective by frosts. 9kg dry powder portable extinguishers are normally required to be stored adjacent to escape stairways on each floor in locked cupboards with emergency keys. Legislation covering the licensing of car parks from the point of view of petroleum storage (including storage in the tanks of motor cars in garages) derives from the Petroleum (Regulation) Acts 1928 and 1936.56 The licensing authority may, in some instances, impose additional requirements in the interest of safety.

If sprinkler systems are to be installed, the fire officer may take such installation into account, together with the height of turntable ladders likely to be available for use, when advising the local authority on the degree of structural fire resistance that the authority should ask for under building regulations. Home Office requirements are also administered by the fire authority'? in relation to the degree of 'forced' ventilation provided in basement garages. All fixtures and fittings that contribute to the essential safety of people using car parks and which are part of the basic fire resistance of the structure should be designed to be as vandal-resistant as possible.

7.3 Fire detection and extinguishing equipment


These recommendations assume that the prompt attendance of the public fire service is assured and that adequate hydrants and an ample water supply are available. It is advisable to discuss all work of this type with the fire officer before the design is too advanced so that notice can be taken of the effects of local conditions.

Automatic detection and extinguishing equipment can be rendered inoperative by an explosion, and for this reason it is recommended that hand appliances should also be provided. The provision of suitable fixed and portable fire-extinguishing equipment to deal with the hazards involved is an essential additional precaution even when all necessary precautions have been taken in the design of the building structure. In selecting the items of extinguishing equipment, care should be taken to ensure that while effective for use against petrol and oil fires, the items do not give rise to toxic gases when

"Similar requirements apply in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Inner London.

their contents come into contact with hot surfaces. Some equipment that is suited for use outdoors presents a toxic risk when used in confined spaces.

BS530658 makes recommendations for the siting and distribution of extinguishers and on the suitability of the various types for use on fires of different kinds. The intervals between routine inspections are set out, and full details of the maintenance to be carried out at stated intervals for each type of extinguisher are given. Periodical testing by discharge is also covered, including recommended intervals between discharges for the various ty~es of extinguisher.

BS5423 8 is for the following kinds of portable fire


water-type (gas pressure) water-type (soda acid) water-type (stored pressure) foam-type

carbon dioxide

dry powder

hologenated hydrocarbon

The Fire Offices Committee publishes a list of approved portable fire extinguishing appliances.?" which sets out the names of those extinguishers that are approved by the Committee, together with the names of their respective manufacturers.


The regulations governing fire protection in the UK are such that they give the following priorities:

• the saving of life

• the protection of property

The results of experiments indicate that the danger of spread of flame from a burning vehicle to adjacent vehicles is quite low with steel-bodied motor cars, although tests have not been carried out with plasticsbodied vehicles. When there is ample cross-ventilation, the fire exposure from a burning car is not intense. It is usually recommended, however, that a sprinkler installation be installed in all underground car parks and car parks situated beneath buildings. Normally accepted design standards for sprinkler installations are laid down in the Fire Offices Committee rules for sprinkler installations." While the sprinklers may be ineffective in controlling a fire inside a car they reduce the risk of fire developing in rubbish and other risks.

Automatic fire alarms

In car parks that are not provided with a sprinkler installation, an automatic fire-alarm system should be installed. The alarm system should be arranged to give warning to the occupants of the park and at the same time to summon the local fire service.

Hand appliances

The following hand appliances should be fitted in all car parks:

(a) Hose reels

Hydraulic hose reels should be provided and so located that at least one nozzle can be taken to any part of the car park. The hose should have an internal diameter of not less than 19mm, and the nozzle should have an internal diameter of not less than 4·75mm. The water supply should be such as to ensure that the nozzle pressure while in operation cannot be less than 1000 mbar.

(b) Foam extinguishers

A 9 litre capacity foam extinguisher should be provided for each 230m2 of floor area and should be so distributed that there is an extinguisher not more than 15m from any point in the car park.

(c) Sand buckets

In order to deal with small fires from spilt petrol, three buckets of sand should be provided on the same basis as the foam extinguishers. Provision should be made to keep the sand thoroughly dry.

7.4 Means of escape Governing bodies

The bodies responsible for checking and approving the designers proposals in connection with means of escape vary in different parts of the United Kingdom and are as follows:

Inner London Boroughs Outer London Boroughs Rest of England

and Wales

-GLC Atchitects Department

-London Fire Brigade

-Local Fire Brigade in

association with the local authority

-Building authority often working in conjunction with the local fire brigade -Fire authority


Northern Ireland

The regulations for the Greater London area are laid down in Part 9 of the GLC Code of Practice Means of escape in case of fire.62 In Scotland, Part E of the Building Standards (Scotland) Regulations 198137 is mandatory. In the remainder of England and Wales the regulations will be of local application and are likely to be based on the GLC Code of Practice62 or to Post War Building Study no. 28,36 which as to means of escape could readily be applied to upper storeys.

Rules for guidance General

It is always best to inquire of the relevant authority what standards it imposes, but where it is not practical to do so, there are some basic commonsense rules that can be followed that should enable the designer to produce an initial proposal for discussion with the relevant authority.

The principal factors governing the provision of means of escape are:

• the number of occupants that could have to escape from the compartment

• the maximum time that it should take for an occupant to escape from a given compartment.

The first of these factors governs the width of exits and the second, because of the effect it has on travel distance, the number of exits that must be provided. When referring to an exit in terms of escape, it must be an exit from the fire compartment not just a means of leaving the car park. This means that it must be a final exit from the car park, a protected staircase leading to a final exit or an external route leading to a final exit.

Number of escape routes

The direct distance to the nearest exit serving a floor area should not exceed 30m, and the travel distance around any anticipated obstructions such as parked cars etc. should not exceed 45m. A minimum of two exits should be provided except in the case of split-level car


parks. Wherever a car park is arranged with split levels it is normally acceptable if each is provided with alternative exits, one of which should be to a final exit, and the others may be by way of an adjoining level to another exit. The travel distances to these exits should be within the limits previously specified. These exits should be remote from each other and, as far as possible, should be sited at the extremities of the building so as to obviate dead ends.

Where because of site restrictions or practical planning difficulties a dead end cannot be avoided, the maximum direct distance in a dead end to either the nearest exit serving the floor area, or a point from which escape is available in separate directions, should not normally exceed 12m, provided that in the latter case the overall direct distance to the nearest exit does not exceed 30m.

The layout of the parking bays and/or service-vehicle loading bays should be arranged with unobstructed access leading to the exits, which should be clearly visible and well indicated.

Width of escape routes

The number of persons likely to use the premises should be assessed on the basis of its probable usage, taking into account, where applicable, surge loading. In the absence of any specific information, the total occupancy should be assumed to be 2 per car-parking space in public car parks and 1·5 per car-parking space in private car parks.

The minimum width of any escape route within a floor area and of any exit can be calculated using the formula:

W=0·005 Pn

for 200 people or over, where W=width in metres

P=occupancy of car (including driver) n=number of cars

Where a ground-floor exit also discharges through a staircase final exit, the final exit may require to be increased in width by the extent of the ground-floor exit width. Similarly, where a basement staircase connects with a staircase from above (if permitted) an increased width of final exit may be necessary. When the occupancy is less than 220 the minimum width should be about l-Im, except that when the occupancy is 50 or less the escape route width can be reduced to 0·76m.

In selecting the width of the staircases the design should be based on the assumption that one of them is out of action. The width of the remaining staircases should then be determined using Table 7 and sizing them to cope with the full load of the building.


Table 7 Width of escape-route staircase62.63
no. of
floors no. of persons one stair can accommodate
1 220 240 260 280 300 320 340 360
2 260 285 310 335 360 385 410 435
3 300 330 360 390 420 450 480 510
4 340 375 410 445 480 515 550 585
5 380 420 460 500 540 580 620 660
6 420 465 510 555 600 645 690 735
7 460 510 560 610 660 710 760 810
8 500 555 610 665 720 775 830 885
9 540 600 660 720 780 840 900 960
10 580 645 710 775 840 905 970 1035
width, m 1·1 1·2 1·3 1·4 1·5 1·6 1·7 1·8 Where the number of persons on any floor area, or to any adjoining split levels, is unlikely to exceed 50 persons, the minimum width of staircases could be reduced to 900mm, provided that the staircases do not serve more than four storeys.

Where access is provided from a basement storey to a protected staircase that serves upper storeys of the building, or more than one basement storey of car parking, a protected lobby should be interposed between the protected staircase and the basement storey. The lobby should be ventilated with an opening or shaft direct to the external air not less than 0·4m2 in area, and any shaft for this purpose should be enclosed with fire-resisting constructions to the standards laid down in either the appropriate building regulations32•35,37,38 or Codes of Practice62 of the governing bodies.

Where the parking accommodation is provided only on the level next above or next below the vehicle entrance level, one of the required routes of escape may be by way of a vehicle ramp, In this case however, it is normal to reduce the maximum direct distance permissible to 12m to the foot of the ramp. This is because in practice an occupant is not considered to have escaped from the fire zone until he has reached the other end of the ramp.

A ramp that affords a means of escape should not be inclined at a gradient steeper than 1 in 10 to the horizontal. If the ramp is also intended to be used as a means of access by disabled persons the ramp will probably need to be designed with a maximum gradient of 1 in 12.

Waterproofing, drainage, floor finishes and maintenance


8.1 Waterproofing General

Car-park owners, operators and users all have a strong interest in the prevention of water penetrating through roofs and floors of car parks. Water leaking through cracks can damage car paintwork because of dissolved salts. Even if the worst apparent result is a damp patch there is a risk that it will deteriorate into a more active leak. Water passing irregularly through cracked concrete may reduce the life of the structure. It is often considered that waterproofing is of even greater importance where the floor of the car park covers shops or other commercial premises and interference with such business because of water penetration would be extremely expensive. It is found that the cost of eradicating leaks is out of all proportion to the precautionary expenditure that might have been involved at the construction stage to avoid the problem. The probability of complete success in waterproofing is to some extent proportional to the expenditure, and therefore it is a reasonable design policy to vary the expenditure on waterproofing precautions according to the degree of exposure and the local consequences of failure.

Alternative approaches to waterproofing

There are two possible waterproofing policies; one that specifies a membrane, and the other which takes sufficient precautions during construction to ensure that a membrane is not necessary. In this context a membrane IS described on page 48. To some extent however the necessary minimum properties of a membrane may be modified according to the crack-risk characteristics of the particular form of concrete structure. For a situation requiring low risk of water penetration a membrane is generally used. Another policy sometimes used is to take the necessary precautions as described on page 00 with construction without a membrane and then if the result is not entirely successful to apply a membrane or areas of membrane at a later date.

A summary of the categories of methods used for waterproofing multi-storey car parks is given in Table 8.

Concrete deck slab without waterproof membrane General

A concrete slab intended to be waterproof without a membrane must be designed, specified and constructed with this fact in mind. Trough and waffle forms of concrete slab are difficult to make waterproof without a membrane because of a greater inherent risk of fine cracking. With toppings sometimes no deeper than 75mm, forms of plastic cracking'" that are difficult to prevent can result in fine through-cracks that, although they may subsequently seal themselves, can be responsible for damp patches.

On the other hand, beam and solid-slab construction can more easily be made waterproof, provided that

28. Concrete deck without membrane Construction joints sealed

construction joints are well planned and executed (see Fig. 28). This approach assumes that panels between construction joints will be reliably waterproof and that construction joints that might open because of shrinkage or temperature change will be sealed. Such seals, like membranes will generally have a shorter life than that of the structure, and the relative maintenance cost of seals and membranes may be taken into account in deciding which policy to pursue.

Concrete joint spacing

Detailed guidance should be given fot positioning construction joints. If a contractor wishes to place joints to a different pattern he should refer his proposals to the designer to see whether they are consistent with the design strategy. The size of panels cast at one time should generally be as large as is consistent with keeping them crack free. Several factors, including the size and spacing of reinforcement, position or restraints and likely thermal exposure, influence this decision. The size of panel should also be limited by the quantity of concrete that the contractor's team can competently handle and finish to the required standard in planned working hours.f

To prevent cracking in irregular lines at points other than construction joints each panel cast should preferably contain only one stiff column or other restraint. Restriction to one column should not be considered an absolute rule since shrinkage may also be adequately resisted in some cases by the provision of additional reinforcement or by the procedure of casting closely spaced down stand beams in advance of floor slabs. Whichever policy for dealing with construction shrinkage is adopted appropriate arrangements of reinforcement should be detailed. Previously cast panels are also : a form of horizontal restraint, and on balance progressive casting patterns are preferable to alternate-bay construction.


Joint lines should be arranged parallel with the column grid and positioned between the quarter-and third-points of the span.

If downstand beams are used, two cases can be distinguished:

(a) If the beams are to be cast at the same time as the slab, it may be necessary to provide a construction joint across the main beams as well as parallel to them.

(b) If the full length of downstand beams is cast before the main-slab concrete, the construction joint need only be positioned parallel to a main beam, and slab panels may be cast across the complete width of a typical parking floor (15.5m approximately). In such a case the previously cast beams restrain the slab more than the column. Shrinkage restraint has to be. resolved within each beam spacing because of the resistance of the beam. If, therefore, stiff previously cast main beams are sufficiently close together there would appear to be no benefit from any restriction in the size of slab panel cast at anyone time.

Figs. 29 and 30 show typical arrangements of construction joints for the above cases. Should a contractor wish to cast more than one adjacent slab panel at a time he could do so by providing a dummy construction joint formed by grooving the concrete while in the plastic stage. This induces the section to crack in a straight-line due to shrinkage and thermal movement. After checking for soundness and cleanliness the groove should then be sealed.

Fabric reinforcement

As a further safeguard against cracking in panels between construction or contraction joints it is beneficial to use square fabric reinforcement such as A98 to BS 448366 laid over the top of all main steels. This fabric should be stopped only at the joints, thereby assisting in obtaining localized movement at predetermined lines. The minimum top cover to fabric should be specified in relation to whether de-icing salts are likely to be used, and the concrete strength and general specification influence this decision (see Table 19 of CPll023 and subsection 8.2 below).

Construction joint details when no overall membrane is provided

A construction joint in a slab has been found to be the most likely position for leaks because it generally acts as a contraction joint whether the designer intended it to do so or not. Such joints are critical when there is no membrane. Concrete on both sides of the joints should be particularly carefully compacted, and the stop end should be struck sufficiently early so that the surface can be brushed to expose the large aggregate without loosening it. This ensures that there is no weakness in the vertical plane and that some shear-effective interlock remains across the joint even when a fine crack may have opened. Since the joint being considered must be waterproof, it should be sealed, and therefore the lines of the cons traction joint should be either grooved while the concrete is still plastic or sawn accurately along the line of the joint soon afterwards. Batten-formed grooves at the tops of side forms result in notoriously poorquality concrete edges. This is the reason for inserting a groove former while the concrete, previously compacted, is still green or for saw cutting later when the aggregate will not pluck out. The choice of sealant or extruded compression seal should be made in accordance with BS 6213.67 Reference 68 is also helpful.


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29. Construction-joint layout with beam and slab cast together

\. '~--I --11- ---~-- - -1- --" ___ J
" " " . " •
" " I' I "
" I " " " ___j
, " "
, " " iCon;t~tion j
, I Last panel
, . in floor 51a
, of floor slab
I I "
, , Next panel ,
, " , of floor slab "
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, " , II I "
, " I '.
, :' , Direction of
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rii-- ___ I.l _____ ... __ -1---':'--,
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oint b

Beams cast separately ahead of floor slab

Direction of progress in concreting

1 -
U ~ u SECTION A-A 30. Construction-joint layout with beams cast before slab

Concrete deck waterproofed by use of a membrane General

In addition to its basic requirement of impermeability a membrane should have the following properties:

• a capacity to bridge fine cracks that open after waterproofing and fine cracks prior to waterproofing that open and close.

• a chemical durability and compatibility with adhesives and with any expansion-joint materials with which it is in contact.


Table 8 Methods of waterproofing car-trafficked surfaces

relevant subsection

1. no applied waterproofing Concrete slab water resistant, wear resistant with all appropriate precautions - if water penetration to be prevented.

see 'Concrete deck slab without waterproofing' membrane

see 'Non-tamped textural finishes'

general comment

not recommended without special consideration to structural design stresses, joint positions and sealing, concrete durability and workmanship

2a. applied 'non-membrane' waterproofing (thin systems)

2b. 'Membrane' modified by fillers and reinforcement protected by wearing surface 'thin' layers

contrast 'membrane' requirements under 'Membrane elasticity'

see 'Non-membrane, waterproofing systems'

see 'surface finish of concrete deck in preparation for membrane'

see 'Multi-layer applications plus bonded thin wearing surface,' 'Membrane elasticity,'

'Chemical durability of membrane,' 'Adhesion of membrane,' 'Protecting the membrane.'

includes slurried surface treatments:

Some preparation requirements + no of coats and thickness to be specified

includes bitumen emulsion modified resins

combined membrane/wearing surface may not meet all 'membrane' criteria as described under 'Membrane elasticity'

3a. Waterproof membrane under separate wearing surface: (thick systems)

concrete not less than 50mm thick wearing surface

3b. Waterproof membrane under 'thicker' wearing surface asphalt


Wearing surface 30mm one coat paving grade mastic asphalt. Membrane 20mm roofing grade two coat mastic asphalt or approved sheet membrane.

INTERMEDIATE FLOOR treatment suggested (no hosing) 30mm one-coat paving grade mastic asphalt (acting as waterproofing/wearing surface).

see all items as 2b above

see 'Thicker wearing surfaces to protect waterproofing systems'

see items as 3a above

follow recommendations of reference 70

follow recommendations of reference 70

follow recommendations of reference 70

INTERMEDIATE FLOOR treatment suggested (where hosing expected) 13mm one coat mastic asphalt membrane or approved

sheet membrane with 30mm

one coat paving grade mastic

asphalt wearing surface.

• a capacity to be bonded to concrete or to be strong enough to perform when totally unbonded.

• a wearing resistance of a compatibility with a superimposed wearing course or other material.

wearing surface may inhibit full efficiency of membrane behaviour

membrane may be bonded or unbonded

75 mm thick concrete topping more likely to be successful

as 3a above

recommended that membrane be unbonded

black surface absorbs solar radiation; reflective treatment desirable

suggested.?" It would be advisable to use a membrane that can bridge a crack opening to a width of O.6mm and remain effective. A test for bridge-deck waterproofing membranes has been proposed'" that would be equally relevant to car parks. The characteristic crack size envisaged by designers as permissible for protected surfaces when using CPll02 is 0.3mm. This indicates the designers notional limit for strain after long-term loading. Only highly stressed areas exhibit elastic and creep strains of this order, but cracks resulting from such

Membrane elasticity

Good elastic properties are an advantage, but a bonded membrane may not need to reply completely on its elasticity provided that it is resilient, ductile and sufficiently thick. A minimum thickness of l.Omm has been


strains might possibly occur in the top surfaces of slabs around columns or over main edge or intermediate beams. Full design loads do not apply continuously, yet the maximum notionally expected size of a crack does occasionally develop partly through shrinkage and creep. These latter effects in all cases tend to open construction joints, and it is essential to ensure adequate strength and movement tolerance in a membrane over them. To do this the membrane may be covered by an additional strip of the same material or a more elastic material to protect its stretched zone. Alternatively, a strip of membrane may be debonded on each side of the joint to reduce strain and avoid necking.

Chemical durability of membrane

Solar radiation, shrinkage hardening and embrittlement threaten the life of some membrane materials if left exposed. Bituminous materials should not be used in conjunction with polysulphide since polysulphide in the uncured state and bitumen are mutually soluble, leaving the cured material weak at the interface. Also, tar-based surface treatments would be unsuitable over some membranes of synthetic rubber latex.

Adhesion of membrane

Unless a complete seal is maintained between the membrane and the deck, water vapour may be trapped in pockets at the interface. Any moisture entrapped in this way tries to expand under the heat of the sun and causes blisters that render both surface and membrane liable to damage. If a thin wearing surface is used it has little mass to suppress blistering, and consequently the adhesion of each layer to the surface below is of paramount importance. Good adhesion not only stiffens the wearing surface but also prevents water from penetrating between the layers and spreading to other points of weakness.

Mastic-asphalt membranes''" should not be bonded to the concrete deck. An underlay of sheathing felt is used for complete separation or, for partial separation, a perforated felt or a mat of woven glass fibre is used.

Where membranes are unbonded special details are required at the intersection of ramps and floors.

Protecting the membrane

The essential properties of a good ductile and resilient membrane conflict with those of a good abrasionresisting wearing surface. It is for this reason that systems consisting of two layers of different but compatible materials possibly bonded together generally offer more durable solutions. The lower layer or real 'membrane' requires the protection of the upper layer against all forms of damage and wear. In the Table 8, summarizing waterproofing methods, distinction has been made between thin multi-layer systems and combinations of pure membrane with thicker conventional wearing course material such as concrete or asphalt.

Surface finish of concrete deck in preparation for membrane

The quality of the concrete surface required by a membrane depends on its specified thickness and whether it is a preformed sheet or spray or brush applied, whether it is bonded or unbonded, and whether any slip layer or cushioning layer is laid below it. Naturally coarse surfaces with sharp aggregate projecting could be detrimental to many forms of membrane.


Some preformed membranes are normally offered as thicker layers than liquid-applied treatments and, being of uniform thickness and bedded in adhesive, tolerate minor indentations to a greater extent than spray-or paint-applied liquids of lesser thickness.

Projecting aggregate reduces the local thickness of spray- or brush-applied membranes. This may have no detrimental effect whatsoever provided that the membrane bonds thoroughly and encapsulates any penetrating aggregate particle.

In general a float-finished surface, free from laitence, ridges and aggregate drag is the best preparation for all membranes. Hand- or power-trowelled surfaces and machine-ground surfaces are also of course acceptable, but conventional tamped surfaces are not suitable.

Bonded membranes require high standards of surface cleanliness, free from grease and oil. Oil and other contaminants may also be detrimental to unbonded membranes.

Non-membrane waterproofing systems

Proprietary cementitious slurry treatments are offered as a single layer, possibly of several coats, to act as a combined waterproofing and wearing surface. These treatments should not be called membranes since they lack elasticity or ductility. Without these properties they are vulnerable to any movement of cracks or any fresh crack formation in the deck concrete. Abrasion by vehicles reduces the surface thickness of the applied material, and appropriate allowance should be made in the specified thickness. In the event of water penetration however it is possible to locate areas of local premature failure and, in the case of such relatively cheap slurry systems, to reinstate the surface at identifiable points without undue expense. This cannot be said of multilayer systems, particularly systems with unbonded membranes.

Multi-layer applications of membrane plus bonded thin wearing surface

A variety of synthetic organic polymers, such as epoxy resin and polyurethane, sometimes blended with pitch and sometimes extended with fillers, have been formulated to provide both waterproofing and wearingsurface functions usually in multi-layer applications.

A typical example consists of pitch-epoxy waterproof layer protected by a mat of embedded glass fibre surfaced with resin-bonded chippings. Concrete surface preparation, the concrete moisture content and ambient temperatures have always to be considered carefully before applying bonded membranes, but this is particularly important with resinous materials. Bitumen emulsions are also offered as the waterproofing basis of multi-layer systems. The necessary properties of membranes are described above where the difficulties of providing thin layers of wearing surface and membrane materials that will operate effectively when bonded together are also referred to. Manufacturers claims of materials properties and systems performance should, as always, be thoroughly evaluated.

Thicker wearing surfaces to protect waterproofing systems

A wearing surface should not unduly impede the freedom of movement of the membrane and should be tough enough to resist abrasion impact oil and petrol and be non-combustible. Preferably it should also be light in colour and of an even and attractive texture.

In Table 8 method 3a relates to various forms of

concrete wearing surfaces, while method 3b refers to paving grade mastic asphalt.

In situ concrete toppings at least 50mm thick, both reinforced and unreinforced, have been used with varying degrees of success as wearing surfaces. These are inherently subject to some degree of shrinkage, curling and possible consequent cracking. Light reinforcement is sometimes included to ensure that any cracking does not result in unduly loose areas. These toppings must be fully compacted and use air-entrained concrete if frost damage is to be avoided.

Because of the greater potential thermal movement of the wearing surface compared with the concrete deck below the waterproofing, differential movements may exert dragging or shearing forces on the membrane. Unless a membrane is capable of accepting such forces the wearing surface movements must be reduced by the provision of sufficient number of surface movement joints.

In situ no-fines concrete is less susceptible to curling and provides a permeable surface which avoids puddles by allowing water to drain within its thickness as well as on the surface. No-fines concrete can be laid in continuous strips with crack-inducing plastic strips tamped permanently into the surface at regular intervals. As with all concrete wearing surfaces compressible material must be placed against all upstand faces. Because water flows freely through the topping, rainwater outlets must be flanged into the membrane below the level of the wearing surface. The mixing and placing of no-fines concrete should be carried out only by skilled workers under experienced su~ervision to ensure that the recommended specification 0 is followed.

Although paving slabs on a bed of cement mortar have been used in some cases, there is a danger that water might become trapped in the mortar above the membrane and as a result the bedding might suffer from frost action, loosen and be damaged by car trafficking.

Precast reinforced-concrete slabs have been laid on proprietary rubber corner mountings, and recent developments have shown promise in the use of specially manufactured unreinforced f:aving slabs supported on strips of resilient material. 71, 2 Such precast paving-slab systems are also appropriate for wearing surfaces overlaying both insulation and waterproof membrane required where parking floors are built over shops and offices.

Vulnerable details

Whatever type of waterproofing has been chosen for the broad areas of roof, sealing it into parapets, expansion joints and gulleys need to be carefully detailed and executed, because failure commonly occurs at these points (see Fig. 31).

Ramp intersection with floors requires special attention but cut-off drains as described in subsection 8.2 assist in this solution.

Movement joints

The need for joints to cope with movement is described on page 34. Horizontal movement in concrete car park structures is generally capable of being dealt with on all floors except the roof by contraction joints only. When the roof is waterproofed and a full movement joint occurs, the details of the joint must make allowances for vehicle trafficking without water penetration. Many of the movement-joint details recommended for building roofs are inappropriate for trafficked areas; the type of movement-joint used on bridges is more suitable.

31. Permeable surface material

The illustration shows the result of adverse falls in structural concrete, with a leak at the kerb-kicker horizontal construction joint.

Because of the expense of construction and maintenance of waterproof movement joints they should be kept to the absolute minimum in number and to the strictest simplicity in detail.

The following general advice relates to waterproofing at movement joints:

1. Where it is acceptable to do so, slabs with or without membranes can be detailed at the joint edges to drip cleanly into open gutters accessible for maintenance.

2. The concrete edges should be soundly constructed, and if nosings in epoxy mortar or metal kerbs are specified they must be capable of resisting severe and repeated horizontal and vertical shock loading.

3. Movement-joint water bars have a limited strain capacity and are as effective only as the concrete in which they are embedded. Continuity of water bars and end detailing often causes difficulties.

4. Deck falls should preferably be away from movement joints. Movement joints tend to become channels for the diversion of surplus water. Special provision for shedding water may need to be made at the ends of sloping joints. Because of the quantity of water flowing along movement joints, any defect in their waterproofing results in a leakage curtain along the underside of the joint. Cars normally circulate at a sufficiently low speed to allow raised strips of surfacing at movement joints; the effect of such a detail would be similar to the provision of shallow 'sleeping policemen' .

5. Joint filler material should be prevented from falling through when the joints open.

6. Waterproofing membranes should be well sealed to the edges of all joint assemblies to prevent water ingress below the membrane.

7. When a concrete deck is cast the joint gap should be of a size appropriate to the properties of the sealant and for optimum performance the constructed gap width would be adjusted according to the time of year of construction. Sealant properties are reviewed in BS 6213.67 Guidelines for estimating the consequent opening and closing of movement joints are given in reference 18. Since the expected movement during the first two years of a concrete structures life could well be twice as much as its subsequent annual movement it has been suggested that there might be


advantages for long-term reliability in first introducing a temporary sealant that is specified to be replaced by a more expensive permanent material after two years.

8.2 Drainage Introduction

The specified minimum falls for the finished surfaces of roofs and floors should be based on the following:

the quantity of water likely to fall on that area

the texture and accuracy of the floor finish and its consequent resistance to the free flow of water the anticipated efficiency of waterproofing and the degree of importance of preventing puddles and leaks

The roof

The roof, as the most exposed area, requires a generous crossfall to prevent puddling. Falls in a finished surface should be at least 1 in 60 unless particularly smooth plane surfaces with short drainage lengths can be guaranteed. Where possible falls should be away from the tops of ramps. A canopy over the top ramp is a useful provision for protecting the floor below the roof as well as the ramp itself, helping to prevent ice forming on the most exposed ramp.

Intermediate floors

While there may be good reasons for varying the fall at different floor levels it may be impractical to do so because of the effect on headroom clearances.

Intermediate floors are wetted at the edges only by rain blowing through partly open sides. A fall of 1 in 60 towards the parapet can reduce the likelihood of the general floor areas being affected except in particularly bad weather. Any bay can be subject to thawing ice falling from parked vehicles. The aisle of lower access floors and ramps are wetted by water from the tyres and bodies of incoming cars, but this may be dispersed by vehicles and by evaporation. It may well be the policy of the car-park operator to hose down all floors from time to time; if he does this, no floor is immune from the test to whether it puddles and leaks. Consequently areas that are not guaranteed waterproof may need to be provided with a fall of, say, 1 in 60 and should be finished to a good standard of regularity. Cut -off grilles should be provided at the bottoms ofthe lower and top ramps, or ramps near any entrance, if not at every level.

Since downpipes can obtain protection against vehicle impact by being on the shielded face of columns and also, as mentioned above, since falls towards the perimeter are preferable, it may be convenient to position gulleys close to external columns so that the visible extent of horizontal pipes below the floor can be reduced. Suspended pipes and downpipes should be arranged to be as unobtrusive to the external elevations of the buildings as possible.

Some structural arrangements dictate the direction of drainage and the length of drainage paths. For example with warped-slab decks it is necessary to arrange for water collection at the centre. Longer water-flow distances may thus be necessary, but provided that the slope is adequate and the gulleys and downpipes are matched to storm conditions, an appropriate drainage provision can be made.

Traps for protection against silt, grit, oil and petrol flowing into the surface-water disposal systems should be provided according to the requirements of the local authority. It is essential to make adequate provision for


rodding all drainage pipes. Where deep interceptor chambers have to be positioned under suspended floors, care must be taken to ensure that they do not infringe the vehicle clearance required.

8.3 Floor finishes Introduction

The floor of a car park should be serviceable but not noticeable. Unfortunately, the attention of a driver and his passenger is often attracted by puddles, crude irregularities and stains. Even though, as the designer hopes, car-park users may never notice the floor surface, it can nevertheless have an important influence on the customers' satisfaction or distaste for the interior of a car park. Some surface finishes are so uneven that they are uncomfortable to walk on in soft-soled shoes, and ladies in their accustomed footwear are entitled to complain. Other surfaces are smooth and become treacherous when tyre-marked and wet. The surface should be suitable for the application of traffic direction and stall markings.

Surfaces of consistently good appearance can be achieved only when consistent materials, timing and surface finishing processes are employed. Even minor changes in day-to-day methods cause irregular textures and patterning that detract badly from the overall appearance of a floor.

Underground floors

The drainage design approach for such floors below the gravity drain level should follow the recognized procedures for subways or underpasses. Floors should be constructed to falls with traps, sumps and automatic pumps.

Line and level

Plane regular surfaces are required to allow water to drain without interruption. Even when water ponds only occasionally on intermediate floors, blotchy, dusty patches can be the result after subsequent drying out. In the direction of fall a standard of regularit~ equal to that of floor toppings as given in CP 204 3 should be achieved. This requires that there should be no depression greater than 6mm under a 3m straight edge. In view of the difficulty of measuring the regularity of textured surfaces the spirit of this specification is of more significance than its detailed enforcement. Abrupt depressions of any depth should be avoided.

Attaining an acceptable regularity of surface is not a separate stage in the floor-casting process; success comes from placing concrete evenly, compacting it uniformly and controlling the amount of surcharge ahead of the straight edge when striking off. Regardless of the texture specified, finishing should be a separate process that follows striking off. Regularity is largely determined at the striking-off stage, since the finishing techniques can change merely the character of the upper surface. The tamped surface described separately below has frequently been provided on unwaterproofed floors mainly because it tends to disguise irregularities. Puddling is more likely with such a surface, and it makes wheeling trolleys more difficult.

A satisfactory line and level can be achieved only by setting out stable and accurate screed battens in advance of concreting.

Having cast a good edge to the first bay, it is essential for the next bay against it to be finished with a clean flush matching surface free from layers of overspill material.

Typical floor specifications

Whatever surface finish is required the preparations for concrete supply, placing and compacting are essentially the same. The concrete mix should be chosen on the grounds of strength, workability and cost, but for durability reasons it would be unwise to use a concrete containing less than 330 kg/m" of cement and with a water/cement ratio greater than 0.5. When a concrete floor is not covered by a membrane it is subject to wear, and a sufficiently durable surface is required to ensure that adequate protective cover to reinforcement is maintained in service.

Concrete verified to consist of the correct constituents and of appropriate slump should be spread to an even surcharge before compaction.

For reasons of structural performance and durability the concrete slab must be well compacted using equipment guaranteed to be effective evenly and to full depth. Surface compaction is a separate process associated with the finishing technique which should be such as not to produce excessive laitence.

Three categories of floor finish can be described as follows:

1. Non-tamped textural finishes

Surface texture for appearance and slip prevention may be applied by either a roller or a brush. The roller can be a cylinder with a pattern of projecting studs that reproduce a pattern as a series of indentations in the green concrete. Another form of roller is an open cylinder made with expended metal, which can be used to reproduce a weave-type pattern.

Brush-marked finished can be made with stiff wire or bristle brushes (see Fig. 32). The best finishes are generally obtained with a very stiff bristle used soon after the surface has been smoothed by the compacting beam or smoothing straight edge. The indentations produced by either rolling or brushing can be up to 5mm deep according to slip-resistance requirements. Where aggregate exposure is the method chosen to provide slip-resistance the aggregate type and grading must be suitable for the purpose.

2. Tamped surface

A tamped finish is produced by the final pass of the compacting beam being lifted and dropped to produce a grooved surface with ridges at a fairly regular spacing of 20 to 30mm apart with depressions between them of up to Bmm. The grooves so formed should, except for ramps, be in the direction in which water is intended to run off. This is difficult to achieve in practice, and the tamped surface is therefore appropriate neither for the exposed perimeters of floors nor for unsealed roofs; nor is it a desirable walking surface. It is however, suitable if laitence is avoided for ramps sloping at more than 1 in 20 where the grooves must be placed normal to the slope. In finishing ramps with a slope of more than 1 in 10, deeper grooves producing a coarser texture are required, and Fig. 33 illustrates this texture.

3. Smooth but unpolished surface

A smooth but unpolished surface is generally required only in areas where waterproofing is to be applied or for forming water-collecting channels. Mention has been made above of the need for the degree of smoothness to be appropriate to the type of waterproof membrane that it is intended to use. For a uniformly smooth surface a float technique is required. A number of items of suitable equipment are

bull floats, skip floats, scraping straight edges and steel tubes as illustrated and described in reference 74. Power trowelling after floating produces a dense hard-wearing surface with negligible 'ripple' or 'chatter marks' , provided that the work has been properly carried out at the correct stage in the stiffening of the concrete surface. There is always a few hours' delay between screeding and the final application of the power trowel. A vacuum dewatering process has been shown to expedite the finishing process as well as improve the permanent quality of the concrete surface."

32. Surface texture obtained by brushing Lightweight staging spans the panel

33. Tamped surface on external ramp

As an alternative to wet trowelling, a suitable surface texture for any waterproofing treatment can be obtained by the use of a grinding machine. This is not to be confused with a scabbling machine since it skims the surface to reveal a sound dust-free and extremely hard face. Grinding cannot correct bad surface textures but can eliminate the early dusting arising from first use of good concrete. It does produce an open-textured surface which is visibly different from a trowelled smooth surface. Naturally, grinding is a dusty process unless combined with vacuum collection. The cost ofthe process is reduced when grinding is carried out between 24 and 4Sh after casting.


Curing concrete floors

Unless concrete floors are cured they may dust unduly. An aspect of curing that is really preventative treatment relates to guarding against plastic cracking. In quickdrying warm or breezy weather protective curing must begin immediately after surface finishing.?' The easiest method of protecting the surface is the use of a reflective, sprayed, curing membrane. This method is not however the most effective means of avoiding plastic shrinkage cracking. Also, when a surface is to be covered with a bonded waterproof membrane, it could be incompatible with the residue of a curing agent. Reference 64 gives general advice on the avoidance of plastic cracking. Among other precautions the use of polythene sheeting, preferably made up into frames, is advised. This method also has some advantage in the winter in the small degree of insulation provided by an air space under the polythene.

Cold-weather construction

All the prcautions normally required for concreting in cold weather" are especially important for those floors of car parks that are large open areas and difficult to shield from cold winds. Insulation in the form of expanded polystyrene or straw panels should be used to cover concrete slabs when air temperatures are likely to fall below zero or more than 15°C below the temperature of the concrete as placed. This recommendation is based on the necessity to prevent concrete that is generating its own heat internally from being exposed to relatively cold air. A temperature difference (within the concrete) of more than 5°C that could thereby be induced would be sufficient to cause cracking. Cold night temperatures in spring and autumn, even if no frost is recorded, may be instrumental in causing thermal cracking in concrete slabs.

Hot-weather construction

Where drying winds, expecially combined with high temperatures are likely to occur precautions against plastic shrinkage cracking are particularly important. When the concreting materials are well above the normal temperatures experienced in the UK some additional precautions may be advisable for the control of early thermal movement. Stock piles of concreting materials and concrete when cast and stored should all be shaded from the sun. This and other precautions are described in reference 77. Emphasis has always to be placed on precautions for minimizing evaporation, curing and regulating the temperature of hardening concrete.


In view of the importance of providing concrete of the correct workability for reasons of effective placing compaction and durability it is appropriate in some circumstances to use water-reducing and other admixtures. When admixtures are specified for air entrainment it is desirable to carry out regular checks to ensure that the necessary air content has been obtained.

Rapid-hardening cement may be used without accelerating admixtures to increase the early strength of concrete if such is required.

Where admixtures are specified for use in concrete they should be in accordance with BS 5075.78

Precautions against snow and ice

Exposed concrete surfaces of roof areas and ramps not provided with electrical heating, or where such heating


may not be regularly used, should be frost resistant. The most positive precaution for this is to use air-entrained concrete of adequate strength. Well compacted high strength concrete has sufficient frost resistance for many exposure situations and with appropriate cover" can protect the reinforcement from limited exposure to chloride-containing de-icing salts. In 9,eneral however an air-entrained concrete grade C40 9 with a water/ cement ratio not more than 0.5 should be specified for exposed roofs and ramps and floors closest to vehicle entry or wherever de-icing salts are likely to be carried in on vehicles or applied to the surface (see Section 6). Even when these recommendations are fully complied with, it is inadvisable for car-park operators to apply road salt frequently or liberally to unwaterproofed concrete. Nevertheless good-quality non-air-entrained concrete is capable of protecting reinforcement where the de-icing salts are brought in only occasionally by vehicles arriving from salted highways.

Floor hardners

Many floor-hardening treatments are available. These reduce surface dusting and improve wear resistance with varying degree of effectiveness. Hardeners by themselves should not be relied on to create good wearresistance properties. A suitably constructed concrete floor should not require floor-hardening treatment. On such a floor the occurrence of dusting depends on the severity of the abrasion, and the acceptability of dusting will vary according to the function of the building. In general the degree of dusting that can be tolerated in a multi-storey car park is far greater than in most factory buildings. This will depend on the maintenance programme as well as the standard for dust-prevention set by the car-park owners. It should not therefore be necessary in all cases to specify floor hardeners for this application. If floor-surface treatments are applied care should be taken to avoid potentially slippery conditions when wet.

Special surfaces

Surface textures may be varied for visual effect and for performing separate functions more efficiently. One function may be to act as a deterrent to irresponsible parking. Well embedded cobbles may be set where pedestrians are not encouraged to go. A more brutal deterrent to cars has been obtained using precast panels of upward pointing pyramid-shaped projections like dragon's teeth. These can be used to prevent undesirable parking in odd corners from causing obstructions and interferences with driving visibility. Areas of floor around staircases and lifts and areas where pedestrians are to be encouraged to walk may be finished with slip-resisting indented techniques as it contrast to treatment of the general floor area.

Surfaces of ramps and heavily trafficked entrances and exits, which would otherwise suffer the most accelerated rate of wear, should be finished with special care and selected concreting aggregate. If granolithic toppings are used they should if possible be monolithic by virtue of being cast straight away on the structural slab while it is still green.f" Toppings should be necessary only if the aggregate used for structural concrete does not possess good abrasion-resisting properties. A good surface for external ramp surfaces has been found to be high-strength air-entrained concrete surface compacted after vibration, leaving the surface lightly and evenly ridged.

8.4 Maintenance of waterproofing and floors

Definition of maintenance

Maintenance, as considered here, is work required at any time during the life of a multi-storey car park for restoring roofs and floors to their original intended standard of performance. In practical terms the major items include repairing and replacing waterproofing systems, membranes and wearing surfaces; resealing contraction joints and unintentionally cracked concrete; and repairing and replacing expansion joints. Work on the wearing surfaces may arise as a result of excessive dusting, premature crumbling and advanced wear arising from abrasion and the polishing of surfaces sufficient to make them slippery. Stall lines and direction markings are an essential feature of the floor and should be considered in this item.

Designer's interest in maintenance

The designer's decision affect not only the initial contract price for construction but also the developer's net return on the value of his investment. The total-cost approach is a well known method of maximizing the long-term advantage of the developer, the operator and society. It consists of making comparisons based on assumed maintenance costs incurred at predetermined intervals and assumes a known life for work carried out to each specification. To be absolutely complete, the total-cost method should include not only the cost of maintenance but also the cost to operators in loss of business and reduced building life if maintenance is not carried out.

Cost of ignoring the need for maintenance

Car-park operators frequently receive complaints about damage to cars from alkaline drips. Despite disclaimers the operator is involved in expenses of some kind whenever a complaint is raised, even if no compensation has to be paid. Some customers may be deterred from using the car park and others may avoid certain areas, thus affecting the income of the operator. When any form of waterproofing failure takes place, time is spent by management and professional advisers identifying the problem and possibly apportioning blame. Sometimes, even after the expense of investigating the problem, because of the high cost of repairs, remedial work is not carried out, and car-park users continue to have to tolerate substandard conditions. If deterioration were allowed to progress unchecked for too many years either the owner or the lessee could find themselves with a structural liability rather than an asset.

This section relates to floors that are essential and vulnerable structural elements. Undoubtedly any water penetration through them is likely to lead eventually to unacceptable corrosion and structural inadequacies. The notional outstanding life of the structure has therefore to be kept continuously under review.

Both concrete and steel forms of structure require routine examination and maintenance during the life of the building. The extent of this maintenance will depend on the degree of care taken in the design and detailing of the building and the quality of construction achieved.

Premature failures

If premature failure of waterproofing takes place within the maintenance period and is rectified at no cost to the client then such occurrences would not form part of a total-cost calculation. In practice, however, there is plenty of evidence to show that potential early failures go unnoticed through lack of supervision. Even when the need for remedial work has been found and carried out, repairs have never been so good as the construction would have been if it had been right first time.

Maintenance staff

For car-parks to remain reasonably serviceable, floor and other interior surfaces have to be cleaned, light fixings have to be maintained and some degree of safety check has to be kept on lifts, staircases and pedestrian routes.

Creating pride in the building and some incentive to keep the building clean, neat and attractive is primarily the responsibility of management, but the building designer bequeaths much that can either encourage or discourage the maintenance staff in their work. Serviceable and easily maintained floor construction is a good basis for creating the opportunity of a good environment.

Thought should be given in design to the choice of vandal-resistant fittings and surfaces particularly associated with lifts, doors, staircases and toilets. Such measures help staff to combat the effects of vandalism which, if allowed to go unchecked, has been found to result in an accelerated spiral of deterioration.

Atmospheric pollution is referred in subsection 6.3, which deals with the need to consider the effect of exposure to carbon monoxide on maintenance staff restricted to the car-park environment for prolonged periods.

8.5 Conclusion

As always in the design of structures, many structural decisions are profoundly influenced by mundane nonstructural requirements. By their utilitarian nature multi-storey car parks rely more than other buildings on the expertise of the concretor to make floors that, if not intended by themselves to be waterproof, are at least of good appearance and have high surface durability. These requirements can be fulfilled only if the design intention is clearly and expressly stated in specifications forming part of the contract and if design decisions to use intrinsically waterproof concrete or applied waterproofing are effectively carried out.


requirements for structural fire resistance. Historically multi-storey and underground car parks have been treated as storage buildings by building codes. This has been found to result in an unnecessarily high standard of structural fire resistance. The present situation in the United Kingdom is that the building codes have not yet been modified on this account, but structural fire resistance standards appropriate to car parks have been authorized by the government by waiver. A similar situation may be found in other countries. Alternatively, if a building code has not been modified for car parks, it may be possible to obtain a waiver.

Variations in climate may also require design modifications. In a cold climate it may be necessary to provide for snow clearance and disposal. It may be desirable to provide snow chutes. Electricity outlets for stalls for engine heating may be required. In a hot climate it may be necessary to provide temporary solar screens renewable, say, every 10 years on the top floor. If this is not done the top floor may not be used in hot weather. In such climates it may also be necessary to keep floors free from obstruction to facilitate the removal of blown sand.

CIS 84916 ISE II 8886148 0223742 304 II


Car parks outside the United Kingdom

The recommendations in Section 3 apply equally in other countries. In such a country the works undertaken in the United Kingdom by statutory undertakers may be the responsibility of public authorities or government departments. It will also be desirable to check the approvals required from governmental authorities, the form in which applications for approvals should be made, and the information that must be included in applications.

When preparing the layout for a car park it is recommended inquiry be made for any locally adopted dimensional design standards. It may be necessary to design for the North American car, and the principal requirements for this vehicle are given in Section 3. In a country which uses the metric system any adopted dimensions may vary a little from those listed in Section 3. Such differences may arise from rounding off in the process of metrication, or may be local variations of the normal dimensions.

For structural and services design it will be necessary to work to any local building code. Altenatively, it may be acceptable to work to the various codes referred to in this publication. In particular, attention is invited to


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10. CP 3: Chapter V, Loading, Part 1: 1967, Dead and imposed loads, British Standards Institution, London

11. BS 6180: 1982, Protective barriers in and about buildings, British Standards Institution, London

12. Parking: effects of stall markings on the positions of parked cars, TRRL Report LR 289

13. Chronically sick and disabled persons Act, HMSO, London, 1970

14. Post-tensioned flat slabs design handbook, Technical Report 25, Concrete Society, London, 1983

15. BS 5493: 1977, Code of practice for protective coating of iron and steel structures against corrosion, British Standards Institution, London

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17. BS 5400: Steel, concrete and composite bridges, Part 2: 1978, Specification for loads, British Standards Institution, London

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24. Jehu, V. J.: Vehicle impact tests on frangible and yielding post designs of bridge parapets, TRRL Report LR 495, Crowthorne, Berks.

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26. CP 298: 1972, Natural stone cladding (non-loadbearing), British Standards Institution, London

27. Precast concrete cladding, Report of Joint Committee of Institution of Structural Engineers, Concrete Society, RIBA, British Precast Concrete Federation, (to be published)

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48. CP 3: Chapter IV, Precautions against fire, Part 3: 1968,

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49. Fire Precautions Act 1972, HMSO, London

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53. Control of Pollution Act 1974, HMSO, London

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55. Circular 17/68, Ministry of Housing and Local Government, London, 1968 (for example)

56. Petroleum (Transfer of Licences) Act 1936, HMSO, London. References 32 and 54 taken together may be cited as:

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60. List of approved portable fire extinguishing appliances, Fire Offices Committee, London, 1983

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63. private communication


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76. Pink, A: Winter concreting, 45.007, Cement & Concrete Association, London, 1978

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