Lee Circle Car Park / Auto-Magic Car Park.
Leicesters’ most famous example of Brutalist architecture would have to be Lee Circle car park.
At the time of its opening, it held a few records. It was one of the first coin-operated car parks in Europe. Beneath its six floors of parking sat the first Tesco supermarket outside of London. This Tesco’s also happened to be the biggest store measured by floor space in Europe.
The car park was also revolutionary, it shaped the way we shop today. You would pay to park on one of the six floors which were designed in a way to hold the maximum amount of cars.
You would use one of the shop’s trolleys or basket and do your whole shop. No sperate shopping at a butcher, fishmongers, greengrocers etc. It was all under one roof. After you had paid for your shopping, a porter would deliver your shopping to the boot of your car.
A crowd of 2,000 people gathered to watch the opening of this new mega-structure that had never been seen before. It was opened by ‘Carry On’ comedian Sid James in the presence of Sir Jack Cohen, founder of Tesco stores, who helped to pack bags at the check-outs.
The design of the car park has made no attempt to hides its only purpose. It was shaped like a double helix to maximise car spaces.
There have been calls to demolish the structure, but personally, I think it would be a shame. In my own opinion, it is now part of Leicester’s identity and that comes from someone who is a strong traditionalist who very much dislikes the modern design.
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