Since its appearance in the 1920s, the filling station as a building type has gradually ceased to be designed by architects. It now belongs to the kind of anonymous architecture that is just there, undergoing changes and then vanishing again. It knows no distinctive style, no personal touch, just the dictates of efficiency. And yet, distinctive designs seem appropriate, not just because of the ubiquity of these buildings, but also because of changes in their function over the last ten years: filling stations have become small towns that endeavour to turn what was once a pit stop into a longer stay. In this spirit, an existing petrol station at the entrance to Germering, a town near Munich, is extended to include retail space, a service area and a carwash.
The architects Haack and Höpfner, who have a long-standing partnership with their client, Allguth, for designing roadside buildings, began by altering the spatial layout: the service area was banished to the back of the site and the 50-metre-long carwash placed in the foreground as an eye-catcher. The three-aisle structure is surrounded by an outer skin of four-metre-high vertical sections of profile glass, held in place by the building's steel frame. It affords a slightly blurred view of what goes on inside, where the cars pass through a series of washing phases.
The interior is lit by four large skylights, set into air cushions that can be raised and lowered to provide natural ventilation, replacing the more usual extractor fan solution. As a further feature of this miniature ecosystem, the waste air from the machine space is collected and used to dry the cars.
Yet, for all its environmental awareness, the fact that the architects have conferred a measure of ceremonial pomp upon this mundane procedure links the new building to its predecessors from the car-worshipping age of modernism. Between the concrete foundation and the jutting eaves, the pavilion showcases the virtues of the clean automobile. And thanks to a specially designed lighting concept, it also shines out at night.
Ecocentric, Transport |