Puerta de América Hotel The Most Famous Parking Lot in Spain

People are drawn to the unexpected. The new. Families on vacation and art lovers alike, both relish in discovering and exploring interesting spaces. Teresa Sapey has brought enjoyment and beauty to a truly unusual place, the parking lot of the Puerta de América hotel. The hotel itself is the work of a dream team of architects, all of whom were thankful to have such memorable parking lot art installed in the building.

Hotel Puerta De America Parking Lot Art Teresa Sapey
The magic of color and design transform this normally inhospitable place. A compilation of words come together to spell “exit” in Spanish.

This kind of urban art project had never been seen before in Spain, causing a positive creative stir in the architecture and design community and an overall interest in parking lot art. Sapey’s unique installation calls for the possible aesthetic consideration of all disregarded space, sometimes referred to as “non-places”.

“Space is not only aesthetics. It’s not only beautiful or ugly. ‘I like it’ or ‘I don’t like it’. Space speaks. If you ask, ‘What do you mean?’—I know how to make space speak the way you want it to.”

To make a space “speak” an extraordinary control of all design elements must be present. The color palette is bright, the reds, yellows, and greens slowly blend across the long walls of the garage. Words from the Paul Eluard poem Liberté form the numerous graphics of symbols and everyday people. The images on the wall of rushing parents with strollers or dogs pulling them along are composed of words relating to freedom. Within this iconic parking lot art, there is a humorous and calming effect on the viewer. They smile when seeing their life echoed on the wall, yet also pensively consider the meaning of the text in terms of personal and artistic freedom.

Hotel Puerta De America Parking Lot Art Graphic Teresa Sapey
Notice how the colors change along the wall. The text within the graphic states, “to express your freedom”, as the hand points towards the exit.

The intention of Sapey’s parking lot art may seem purely visual, but all design aspects, the softly changing colors for example, are also carefully thought out to aid user experience. When parking your car, you can gather your bearings based off of not just a uniform wall, but one with different tones and graphics. Because of its consistent real-life use, parking lot art and design must not interfere with the normal daily function of the space. Art in public places should improve, not impede.

Hotel Puerta De America Parking Lot Art Stairs Teresa Sapey
Text plays a big role in this parking lot art design. The theme of freedom repeats in people’s minds as they enter the hotel, or street level.

“The inspiration was to give life to a dark and hidden place. With no window, no walls, no door, no real life, no real feeling, just people running that wanted to escape. Actually it’s an escaping place the garage. I’m the first one, when I park my car, that I want to hide and run away. So the inspiration was to bring the sun underground.”

The text pokes fun at this idea of escaping a horrible place, although because of it, thankfully, the once oppressive non-place now enchantingly welcomes. It is undeniable that the feeling of being trapped has dissipated and that Sapey has met her original goal. A firm believer in the power and emotional effects of urban design, she time and time again proves these sentiments true. We excitedly wait to see what she does next to take parking lot art and design to the next level.