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The Future of the “Gas Station” Might Be Much More Electrifying by Design

02.17.22 | By
The Future of the “Gas Station” Might Be Much More Electrifying by Design
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It’s easy to get caught up in the hype surrounding the future of electric vehicles. With a variety of shapes, sizes, and purposes designed to appeal to anyone looking to upgrade from a combustion engine to an electric drivetrain, there are now numerous options ranging from economy, performance, luxury, work-purpose, and adventure. What’s not as electrifying – but perhaps even more important than the vehicles themselves – is the infrastructure required to support this supposed electric vehicles revolution. Where, when, and how fast we’ll be able to recharge remains a TBD problem still in its nascent state of being solved.

Side plan view render showing three different zones comprised of a structural bay, courtyard and unit where visitors can workout.

Just as automakers have recognized an opportunity to rethink what the (electric) car of the future could look and feel like, so too has news platform Electric Autonomy Canada in regards to fueling stations of the future. Working in partnership with Cadillac, Parkland Corporation, CIBC, and Dentons, the site’s design competition – The Electric Fuelling Station of the Future – invited architects from around the globe to envision future-leaning fueling station concepts dedicated to electric vehicle (EV) charging.

Over 100 entries were submitted, each exploring not only architectural solutions in the advancement of imagining refueling services where EV drivers could stop to alleviate their “range anxiety,” but also to provide inviting hubs for travelers to recharge themselves. The winners are to be awarded $40,000 CAD in total prize money between first, second, and third place. First place presents a striking and ambitious concept comprising a dual bay structure plan, one housing a sensory garden, health/fitness center, lounge, and cafe.

Composed of architects, retail experts, EV industry reps, and the designer behind the Cadillac LYRIQ EV, the competition panel crowned the timber-framed pavilion, ‘More with Less’ by architect James Silvester from Edinburgh, Scotland. With a striking curvilinear canopy shading charging bays during the day, and offering a safe LED-illuminated parking/charging source at night, the station concept proposes an in-between way point where travelers can not only recharge their vehicles, but step inside to relax, eat/drink in a cafe, shop, or even slip in a workout to stretch out their muscles.

The winning design by architect James Silvester utilizes two types of bays, the first structural, housing the main indoor facilities including a cafe or convenience store. The roof of the structural bay cantilevers over a secondary non-structural bay shading cars and visitors with a stretched lightweight tensile fabric.

“The competition hit home with me because the architecture I specialize in is sustainable design – low carbon buildings and low embodied energy,” explains competition winner, James Silvester. “There was the opportunity to contribute to a very new typology – what we are designing is a question mark. If I could have some input in trying to define what this new typology is, then that would be fantastic.”

Side view render of a circular charging station, with cars parked on the outside, and guests are invited into an inner courtyard in the middle.

Overhead render of a circular charging station, with cars parked on the outside, and guests are invited into an inner courtyard in the middle.

Second place was awarded to the ‘The Circle’ by Fabric.a Architects from Istanbul, Turkey.

Side view of Plug and Play concept render of recharging station, a wood paneled pavilion with cafe and playground.

Third place was awarded to, ‘Plug and Play’ by Pavel Babiienko from Berlin, Germany.

More details on the competition and winning designs are available at evcharging.electricautonomy.ca/awards2022.

Gregory Han is Tech Editor of Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at gregoryhan.com.