Charge Your Electric Car in Style at the K:PORT

Hewitt Studios unveils "mobility hubs" built from mass timber and solar panels.

Roof detail

Hewitt Studios

When Treehugger first showed the K:Port Charging Hub from Hewitt Studios a few years ago, I thought it was going to be the start of something big—a mix of a café with a charging station, the return of the drive-in restaurant where you combine a fast charge with slow food.

Alas, the pandemic arrived and the project was delayed. But now the first charging stations (without cafés) have opened in the United Kingdom in London and Portishead. They are a very different thing from the usual charging station in a parking lot and are "designed to inspire and enable the sustainable electrification of transport."

Portishead charging station

Hewitt Studios

The K:Port is inspired by the Japanese notion of “Komorebi”—the dappled light which occurs when sunlight shines through the leaves of a tree. In this case, the tree is made from responsibly sourced glue-laminated timber (glulam) and topped off with a photovoltaic canopy that harvests rainwater and sunlight. The designers describe it:

"K:Port® is a low-carbon, multi-modal transport solution designed to democratise e-mobility and inspire behavioural change within the communities it serves. Unlike established and familiar solutions it allows deployment in prominent and sensitive locations, with minimal environmental impact and a secure & flexible long-term legacy. K:Port® represents a fresh approach to e-mobility and a declaration of the ‘art of the possible’. Hewitt Studios’ intention is that this attractive, front-of house mobility hub offer will, with a clear focus on well-being, health and sustainability, help to motive consumer changes in behaviour."
Woolrich charging station
Woolrich charging station.

Hewitt Studios

That is certainly asking a lot of a charging station. Even if it doesn't inspire behavioral change, it does keep you dry while charging your car, which is something that happens at almost every gasoline filling station. And even though the chargers for electric cars are designed to be safe to use in the rain, nobody wants to be standing in it while holding 50-kilowatt cables.

Charge it!
Woolrich Charging Station.

Hewitt Studios

The K: Port is made of modular, prefabricated components that can be delivered and installed in a matter of weeks. Hewitt Studios say that it is "cheap and easy to maintain and at the end of its life, the timber frame has been designed to be re-locatable (to another site), re-usable (as a building frame) and / or disposable (as biomass fuel), ensuring a long-term sustainable legacy."

Coworking Cafe
Coworking Café.

Hewitt Studios

I remain excited by their vision of a mobility hub that is more than just a place to charge a car, but also was "developed by Hewitt Studios to offer attractive, safe and sustainable neighbourhood EV and e-bike charging with integrated cafe / demonstration space." Like the drive-in restaurants of the 1950s and 1960s, it is a response to the change in the way we get around.

In a time when many food chains are going to drive-through only, we may see a counter-trend where people stop and take a real break, enjoy a meal, or get some work done. They might be like airport shopping areas with their captive audiences, or even someday be like Japanese highway rest stops that in many cases have actually become destinations. The fanciest is known as "Michi-no-eki," or “roadside stations.” 

"Michi no eki in particular are often tailored to a specific theme or showcase local attractions. Many also incorporate features such as museums, farmer’s markets, and local craft markets that help integrate them with their local communities. Michi no eki are often used to introduce the charms and products of an area to travelers and special menu items incorporating exotic, local, and seasonal ingredients are often available."
Diners Club
Charge it!.

Diners Club

So what we have here is a very attractive charging station, but it could be the start of something much bigger, giving new meaning to the phrase "charge it."