What's the future of the gas station?

Skovshoved Petrol Station
CC BY 2.0 Skovshoved Petrol Station/ Lloyd Alter

A competition invites designers to come up with ideas, but really, it's old news. They have been disappearing for years.

What do you do with an old gas station? Outside of Copenhagen, a gas station designed by Arne Jacobsen is now an architectural tourist attraction.

If it is designed by Mies van der Rohe like one was in Montreal, you can turn it into a community centre. But most gas stations are not so historic or beautiful. That's why GoArchitect is running an interesting competition to replace all those gas stations that will no longer be needed when all the cars go electric. "There are over 130,000 gas stations in the US alone and many are family-run small businesses who don't have endless resources to prepare for the coming tectonic shift."

While it may be easy to disregard their plight as a necessary step in progress, the fact remains that these soon-to-be icons of a past age sit on some of the most valuable land in the world and represent a considerable investment. They sit on thousands of street corners, city centers, downtowns, and neighborhoods. This isn't even to mention the hundreds of thousands of jobs they provide for communities of all sizes.

I am not sure this is actually the case; in the cities where gas stations are on valuable land they have almost entirely disappeared. Many New Yorkers take the tunnel to New Jersey to get gas because there is just one station south of 23rd Street. In Toronto, almost every station has gone to condos. But Josh Sanabria, CEO of GoArchitect, tells TreeHugger that "we believe adaptive re-use is the best way forward for sustainability."

This is your challenge, design your vision for the future of the gas station. What will it become as drivers begin charging their cars at home, work, and the grocery store? How may they adapt to a shifting landscape of autonomous vehicles and an on-demand culture? The electric car revolution is here and it's up to us to pave the way for the future.

This has been looked at before with tongue in cheek by Gensler and Reebok, who imagined turning them into everything from yoga studios to juice bars.

The reality is that in successful cities, they will all turn into housing; in failing cities, they will just be another parking lot. But it's a fun idea. Sign up here.

What's the future of the gas station?
A competition invites designers to come up with ideas, but really, it's old news. They have been disappearing for years.

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