Invention Lets You Park in Your Living Room

A new invention by a Rice University student has invented a way for you to park your ride smack in the middle of your home.

As part of the James Dyson Design competition is in full swing, Aaron Cheng created the Pneumatic Shelter – a structure that transforms from living space at night to a parking space during the day.

According to the invention’s description, “The Pneumatic Shelter integrates parking and living by compressing them into one structure-solving space efficiency for the Metropolis.”

The James Dyson Award is an international design award that “celebrates, encourages and inspires the next generation of design engineers.” Entrants can submit footage, images and sketches of their ideas to the award’s website, along with stories detailing their design process and inspiration.


The award is open to any university level student of product design, industrial design or engineering, (or graduate within four years of graduation) who is studying or studied in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, UK and USA.

For the Pneumatic Shelter, Cheng observed that parking is at a premium in urban spaces, especially in focused urban environments like New York City and San Francisco. In those towns, parking spaces can sell for as much as a small condo. The Pneumatic Shelter eliminates the double expense. Obviously, residents on upper levels would have a lift to bring their car up to their residence.

CRAVEONLINE: What inspired you to design this?

Aaron Cheng: Space efficiency is always the problem to those major metropolises with high density like New York, Shanghai, etc. Designers have come up with many ideas to better utilize space, but most of them are limited to how to optimize the layout and squeeze more programs into it.

I was fascinated by this topic and thinking if there is any other way to solve this problem. So I did a study about different types urban space in terms of their properties and major users. Then I found an interesting thing: many public spaces (for example: offices, train stations, museums and etc.) are occupied during daytime while emptied at night time. However, apartments are the opposite: empty during daytime occupied at night.  That was how I got the initial idea of this project: a space efficiency solution by 'time' instead of 'space'.

CRAVEONLINE: What cities do you foresee gravitating to this idea?

Aaron Cheng: This project is a space efficiency solution to those high-density metropolises like New York and Shanghai or some cities' central area with very high land value.

CRAVEONLINE: Are there limits as to what cars could be included?

Aaron Cheng: The total height of this project is about 21', which could be used as a two-story 10.5' high apartment or a three-story 7' high parking garage. 7' is the height of a typical automated parking garage, which can accommodate most SUV.  

CRAVEONLINE: Do you expect there'd be any urban resistance in some circles to this idea?

Aaron Cheng: People will probably be concerned about the idea of “living in the garage.” But if the project is well developed, there is nothing to worry about in terms of the utilization. People's “concern” is really about changing the way they live. It is hard, but car itself was not well accepted when it was invented.

CRAVEONLINE: How complicated / expensive do you foresee these being?

Aaron Cheng: This project requires two major technologies: Automated parking and pneumatic structure. Both of them have been widely used in the world. It won't be too complicated to put them together.

As for the cost, the project could be considered as a typical automated garage plus prefabricated affordable housing units. Compared with the project cost, the land price should be the developer's main concern.