THE FILLING STATION

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Amidst all the hustle and bustle for the 2012 Olympics, several other projects, smaller in scale, have also been undertaken. One is a special semi-permanent structure: The Filling Station, in Kings Cross.

Designed by architects Carmody and Groake, for Kings Cross, this exciting venture opened earlier in May. What was once an ordinary BP petrol station overlooking the Regent Canal is now an illuminated structure housing a lively cultural centre and social space. Although semi-permanent it doesn’t quite qualify as a pop-up; this exciting project will run only until 2014.

Almost immediately when one thinks of a desolate petrol station, the eerie scenes in paintings of Edward Hopper spring to mind, a far cry from the photography of Ed Ruscha who depicts the petrol station as a thing of beauty.

John Bingham Hall, curator and project manager of the arts programme at The Filling Station, spoke to Velour to give the scoop on the design of the space and the projects running.

“The artistic idea of the filling station as an icon has been important throughout the design and programming of the space, giving us a good starting point for all things strident, modernist and new.”

The Filling Station bar and restaurant are the only near permanent structures inside the space, whilst the arts programmes are always changing. Most recently, Pop science collective, ‘Super/Collider’ transformed the space, collaborating with young designer Patrick Stevenson-Keating, to explore ideas of the filling station in a post petroleum world. The next project to have opened was a short animated film by visual artist Matt Hattler. Others involved in the arts programmes have been Stephen Bayley of The Design Museum. The programmes are endless and exciting so it is a shame The Filling Station won’t exist forever.

The future of architecture in London is exciting – we are encouraged to think flexibly about architecture and urbanism. The Filling Station is a good example of how a nameless structure, such as a petrol station, can be infused with life. It leaves us to wonder what will be left of the architecture of the present age?
Words by Theodora Barker