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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

The Impervious P-lot

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One of several Hull parking lots. photo by Heather Davis

A little while ago, before the snow melted, a small group of us met up in an Ottawa office space to interview architect Scott Hayward about “green” parking lots. He described how green lots work, told us about one he is working on right now, and explained how parking factors into building design.

This was the exciting first in a series of interviews about parking lots for a Hull-based project I’m working on with Brooklyn’s The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP). The name of this project finds its roots in what Scott described as the number one environmental problem associated with parking lots: water runs off them because their paved surfaces are impermeable.

The Impervious P-lot was inspired by the strikingly high concentration of parking lots within a small area surrounding two massive government complexes in Hull, Quebec. Having lived in this part of Hull for several months, I became spectator to the rhythms of the lots: completely full from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, and virtually empty at all other times. I decided to invite some friends to join me in a CUP-approach study of the phenomenon of Hull parking lots.

Of interest to those of us working on The Impervious P-lot are all manner of questions related to parking lots. Through interviews with various people connected to parking lots, we hope to learn about wastewater management, how to build a parking lot, transportation and parking policy, and more. We are interested in how parking lots have changed Hull, how parking lots themselves have changed, and how they are likely to change in the future.

At the conclusion of our first Impervious P-lot interview, Scott told us, “I haven’t gone over to Hull much lately but I remember when I was in university — I remember going to look for sites in Hull and there’re piles of them. It’s all just parking areas between buildings.”

Amber Yared is one among a group of artists, writers, educators, and architects working on The Impervious P-lot, a Hull-based CUP project about parking lots and what they do besides store cars. She will be posting her findings on the Spacing Wire as the project progresses.



  1. Many parking lots in the City of Toronto are illegal – they don’t have planning approval to be used as parking lots. These illegal lots should be identified and beautified during the legalization process.

  2. Is there a tax on asphalt in any city anywhere? If so, would it include the “public” institutions of all our schools, agencies, government services etc. etc.? Yes, we ride bikes and walk on asphalt and concrete but if there was a feedback to the landowner/user about the type of surface, we wouldn’t need a project like this.