Energy Commons: A Hypothetical Replacement for Gas Stations
Buddy Burkhalter, Assoc. AIA
Energy Commons strives to rethink and redesign the future of gas stations.
The gas station today has become increasingly obsolete in the face of growing cities and increasing environmental awareness. Alternative energy sources and different modes of transit such as walking, biking, car sharing, and public transit have grown in popularity, resulting in a decrease in the number of gas stations nationally. The redevelopment of gas station sites aims to increase density by filling the voids in the fabric once dedicated to the car. With their prime urban locations and past associations, the sites of former gas stations have the potential to become new nodes of distribution and communication in the city.
The obsolesce of the urban gas station offers the potential for a new building type that will better serve today's changing needs for transportation and distribution of energy. The proposal consists of the design for a small-scale urban amenity node, or "Energy Commons" in Seattle. At 36,000 sq. ft., the "Energy Commons" will combine utilitarian functions with a contextual neighborhood-based program through personal vehicle recharging, neighborhood co-working offices, cyclist and pedestrian amenities, solar energy, and water harvesting and storage. The goal is to transform the former car-centered and consumptive structure into a new public urban asset that is human-focused and energy-resource resilient. The proposal demonstrates innovative design thinking within an urban context that can be replicated at multiple scales across the country to support human activity and minimize the effects of climate change and resource deficiencies.