Retrofitting Gas Stations for Good

Gas stations, they’re not good for cities. Forget about the larger ramifications of oil dependence, which gas stations are an important cog in the wheel of. Just focus on their impact on the street level. Their impact is due to their lack of presence more than anything. There’s no there there. And the there that is there is the same everywhere in the world.

But maybe the gas station, as a physical structure, isn’t so bad after all. In disparate parts of the world, vacant gas stations are being repurposed to become places of entertainment, local entrepreneurship, and cultural productivity.

Gas station retrofits are sprawl repair at its best.

Take the Cineroleum for example. A brilliant retrofit of an abandoned gas station in London into a movie theater, which I first read about on the Pop-up City blog. Part of the brilliance of this project, and almost all pop-up movie theaters is the lightness of the materials needed to pull it off. The key material was a simple tarp like structure, used to provide enclosure of the theater and a surface for projecting on to. This kind of beautiful simplicity makes seed-bombing look complicated.