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Illustration reveals unbelievable potential hiding in mall parking lots: 'This is what we should do…'

"This is like… the greatest thing I've ever seen."

"This is like... the greatest thing I've ever seen."

Photo Credit: iStock

A proposal for a mall in Markham, Ontario, has spurred people's imaginations about what could be possible in these typically concrete-abundant sites. 

Posting on X, formerly known as Twitter, Hayden Clarkin (@the_transit_guy) shared an image that shows green spaces and dwellings in a plot of land that would usually be reserved for parked cars. 

"This is how we should utilize every mall parking lot," Clarkin captioned the post. 

Surrounding the mall are lines of trees, open green spaces, and high-rise apartments, providing housing for residents and accessible outside areas for locals to enjoy.

"This is what we should do overnight to every mall in this country," Clarkin added.

The post has been viewed more than 180,000 times and picked up over 3,400 likes. "This is like... the greatest thing i've ever seen," one commenter said. Another stated, "Malls would probably still be in business if this happened."

Part of the issue with parking lots is they take up vast amounts of space that often go completely unused. In countries experiencing affordable housing crises, these areas could be used for the construction of apartments and homes. 

Furthermore, since parking lots are typically completely paved, they provide few environmental benefits. Adding trees can help to improve local air quality — as they can remove harmful airborne toxins and release oxygen — and provide habitats for animals crucial to biodiversity.

Since trees and grass absorb heat and trap it, they can also help mitigate the heat island effect. Concrete, stone, and asphalt all absorb heat and then expel it into the surrounding area, leading to increased temperatures in urban settings in comparison to rural areas. 

With July 2023 having been the hottest month on record worldwide, according to NASA, any method to provide natural cooling in built-up areas will be welcome. 

The drawing shows what can be possible with a little creative thinking, and it's a model that could bring significant benefits to towns and cities everywhere. 

Other uses for former parking lots have been springing up across the globe as well. In Bydgoszcz, Poland, for example, one such space has been reclaimed and turned into a community area for swimming and other outdoor activities.

Meanwhile, outdoor parking lots in France are being tapped for the generation of clean solar energy, with sites featuring 80 spaces or more set to require "photovoltaic shades."

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