In the seminar room

In the winter term of 2005/06 Bernd Upmeyer teaches a theoretical seminar entitled “Ex Gas Stations” at the University Kassel in Germany. The results of this seminar are published in MONU Magazine’s issue #4 on “Denied Urbanism”.

Pages 10 and 11 of MONU’s issue #4

Pages 12 and 13 of MONU’s issue #4

“Germany is famous for its bureaucracy with its incredible amount of norms and regulations. For decades, the creative people of the country have been accusing this bureaucracy of blocking any innovation. But the increasing amount of safety regulations in the construction business since the 1990s unintentionally created a new innovative architectural prototype in German cities: The Ex Gas Station.

After the WWII and during the German “Wirtschaftswunder” many of new gas stations were built in German cities. These gas stations were, compared with gas stations of today, pretty small. They usually had just 2 gasoline pumps and occupied only a surface of around 500m2. After filling up your car you were not paying in a huge supermarket – like shop, but in a small shack of often not more than 50m2.
In the 1990s huge and modern new gas stations appeared in the cities, delivering all kind of services and shopping facilities next to just selling fuel. The old generation of gas stations was not competitive anymore. They closed shop one after the other. Surprisingly a lot of these old gas stations did nor disappear, but got just stripped of their old function and survived in the urban realm as Ex Gas Stations.

Since the 90ies the German law made it more and more complicated to break down and reuse contaminated buildings on toxic ground. Big investments are necessary to clean up sites. Since nobody wants to invest, the old gas stations were transformed into urban zombies. But after a process of neglect, a period of new appreciation began. The old gas stations entered the marked again, reincarnated as fast food restaurants, car sales sites or liquor stores. They revealed lots of qualities: a roof, as a shelter against rain, perfect accessibility for cars as drive in stores, lots of convenient parking and a beautiful and simple box with a foil ornament façade. Ex Gas Stations are progressive architectural prototypes with low rent or purchase costs.”

Institution: University of Kassel
Course: Ex Gas Stations
Department: Architecture, Urban Planning and Landscape Planning
Type: Theoretical seminar
Position: Assistant professor
Date: October 2005
Location: Kassel, Germany
Publication: MONU #4 – Denied Urbanism, pages: 10-13