Glossy renderings, greenwashed ideas and fantastic fixes. Many submissions to this competition will provide a solution to the problem of gas stations. These photorealistic representations of our utopic future (that waits just around the corner) are problematic. Architects are quick to paste green roofs, PV panels, and electric cars into their representation, stating: “These are the things our green, sustainable future will have”. How do we know? Rather than dreaming of a solution, we seek to initiate a process. How do we get there?
The massive shift in the global attitude required to combat the climate change emergency does not happen overnight, but that does not mean we should be complacent. Immediate action needs to be taken by large institutions, primarily governments, to initiate a global effort. Before we get to renewable energy, sustainable practices, and a “green” future we must force the hand of the large institutions and political bodies who need to lead that effort. They will not do it voluntarily. Rallies, marches, demonstrations, and civil disobediences are effective ways of communicating this message because of their capacity to slow economies, freeze cities, and disrupt order. These disturbances are happening all over the world right now. While what the demonstrations across the world speak to are different, they share a common goal – speaking to power.
Our gas station sits on the corner of 8Th Avenue and 13th Street in the Greenwich Village on the west side of Manhattan. This station is a coveted piece of infrastructure, being the only fueling site below 23rd Street, it is open 24 hours a day, 356 days a year. Not only is the gas station in high demand, but so is the land it sits on. The owner, Tommy Hondros, claims to get offers of upwards of $60 million dollars on a regular basis, in an interview with Curbed magazine’s Peter Moskowitz. This is the gas station of today.
Our proposed Gas Station of the Future is physically not so different, nor is it that far away. The station is pictured amidst the largest world-wide protest of the 21st Century. Millions of New Yorkers come out in solidarity demanding immediate action against the climate emergency. The reliance on fossil fuels is seen as a major factor in the emergency. The gas station becomes a symbolic location for protests. In an act of desperation, the pumps are covered in a pile of rubble hauled to the site by the protesters, disabling the pumps for future use. The event is purposefully represented in a fuzzy and glitchy manner to avoid mistaking it as a reality. It does not give false promises, nor does it hide behind band aide solutions to major issues.
The Gas Station of the Future is non-existent.