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Everyday Architecture

West Bell Street Car Park

West Bell Street Car Park was built on top of an old burial ground. This might sound like the start of a horror story, but there’s no ghosts involved, promise!

The site underneath was called the Constitution Burial Ground and was used from 1834, after the Howff Cemetery just around the corner, was full up. The excavation work to build the car park and the ring road over the site began in December 1972 and it opened on Friday 23rd August 1974. All remains were re-interred (‘interred’ means to place a corpse in a tomb or grave and ‘re’ means to do it again!) in a mass grave at the Dundee Eastern Cemetery. Approximately 10,000 souls were interred on this patch of land until they stopped selling plots in 1882.  Some of the old headstones have been built into the wall of the car park exit; you can see these as you are driving out, on the left hand side, which isn’t creepy at all.

West Bell Street multi storey car park is known to some Dundonians as  the ‘curly’ or ‘doughnut’ car park, because of it’s twisty, apple peel-like ramps that add some fun to parking your car. It’s quite a large car park, with more than 900 spaces and a headroom of 6ft 6in inside. The style of this building is referred to as Brutalist architecture, this is an architectural style that emerged during the 1950s in the UK. The name Brutalism comes from the French term ‘béton-brut’, literally “raw concrete” – the movement’s signature material.

When West Bell Street Car Park opened, it was 10p per day during the week and 5p on weekends. Monthly season tickets cost a grand total of £2.50, but you’d only get about 2 hours for this price today. For a lot of people, this was supposed to be their final resting place, maybe a couple of hours is enough!

Research by Stephanie Crowe
Words by Poppy Jarratt
Illustration by Dana Ulama