This past Saturday I went to the outskirts of Rome to check out IKEA. Just as interesting to see the inner city of Rome, are the contemporary suburban areas. The store is located just outside the A90 ring road near Anagnina, the last stop on the Metro A line, so it took a while to get there. A number of bus lines run from the metro station to the shopping center where IKEA is. The store was about what I expected it to be (after all, they in America) but I did enjoy seeing a European big box store.
I especially liked the parking lot, which had natural “green” parking spaces instead of pavement. While the driving areas were still asphalt, the actual spaces were left as turf. A plastic honeycomb shaped structure is laid down and filled with gravel and topsoil, permitting short turf to grow. This reduces storm water runoff, partially filters water as it permeates into the ground, and is much more attractive. It also allows trees to be planted between spaces without needing large landscape islands.
I haven’t looked into cost comparisons between this system and all-pavement. While I imagine these systems require some degree of regular maintenance, it seems like they’d be much more sustainable (lifetime and environmentally) than all asphalt, which gets cracked and uneven quickly, needing to be entirely repaved after 10 years. Alternatively I’ve also seen parking lots here with the spaces paved in brick or pavers, to control settling from the weight of vehicles in addition to some permeability.