Plug + Play: Rethinking Service Stations

Rising fuel prices are forcing car-dependent societies to rethink not only our sense of mobility, but also how we power that mobility. Old gas stations need to be somehow repurposed (like this conversion of Mies van der Rohe’s famous Montréal gas station into a community space), new stations need to be structurally flexible (like this prefab typology of Spanish gas stations), and, most importantly, we need to start thinking not of gas stations, but of service stations that refuel not just vehicles powered by petrol or diesel, but also electricity, biofuels, natural gas, and hydrogen.

Recognising this, DesignByMany ran a competition to see how designers could re-imagine the idea of the roadside fill-up for an electric vehicle charging station. The winning proposal, dubbed Plug + Play, takes the traditional notion of the gas station and breaks it down into pieces. Considering that an electric vehicle charging station would not need the huge structure that a gas station does, the Plug + Play design features smaller charging stations placed within particular activity zones, allowing the driver to plug their vehicle in for 30 minutes while they do their shopping, buy groceries, go for a coffee, or hit the gym.

The proposal is also a miniature aesthetic wonder. It truly remakes the visual that comes to mind when we think of refuelling our vehicles, and reconfigures how we spend our time at the pump. A mobile solution for an evolving sense of mobility.

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