Wednesday 30 November 2011

Petrol station review: Damilano Studio, Cuneo, Italy

Italian practice Damilano Studio has produced a visually arresting design for a new petrol station forecourt in Cuneo, Italy. Gazoline petrol station is a sleek and ultramodern piece of architectural design that communicates a sense of luxury through form and minimalistic style.  But under closer scrutiny how does this design stack up?

Forecourt design for petrol station in Cuneo, Italy
This petrol station is clearly decorative and exudes class but, on the basis of these images, it looks like Damilano Studio has neglected to consider some practical and commercial issues.

The canopy is small and does not provide decent shelter. If it rains then fuel spillages become a hazard.

The uplighting is visually impactful but could prove insufficient at night. Also some of the external surface walls appear highly reflective and under natural sunlight might produce unwanted glare, especially during the summer months.

From a branding perspective, there appears to be too little attention to commercial considerations, such as where the fuel retailer's identity and branding could be projected. If this was intentional then how might a fuel retailer react? If it is an afterthought then we expect the overall design will be compromised.

Moreover, with petrol prices so high across Europe, what sort of signal does this forecourt design send off to cost conscious fuel consumers? It may attract a throng of road-hugging sports cars and executive saloons but is the design right for the times?

Angled structures – spot the inverted trapezoid
The structures are visually entertaining though and you can gaze for some time at the various geometric shapes the architects have incorporated.

Upon the shiny red fascia there is a primal looking image of a wolf sitting on a lavatory. We love this injection of humour and against the grey and silver this is immediately visible from entering the forecourt. Noting also the red fuel pump, there is a coordinated use of colour, rather like an Antonioni film that plays on colour as a narrative.

Taking the ****? wolf on toilet

Interior bar/restaurant area

Apart from the canopy section and petrol pump, architects Damilano Studio have left it to mostly to our imagination the specific functional form the interior spaces might occupy, and when they do provide an answer, we get the impression that their ideas have not been thought through – you can just see in the  image above a few alcoholic beverages for sale.

In sum, this is a pretty design but as a petrol station design, it is hard to see this working without some major revisions.

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