Energy Commons//Buddy Burkhalter

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  • 17_SP_700_Burkhalter_Buddy_03
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  • 17_SP_700_Burkhalter_Buddy_01
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  • 17_SP_700_Burkhalter_Buddy_10
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Course Description

Energy Commons: A Hypothetical Replacement for Urban Gas Stations in Seattle
Thesis Citation

While surviving as a monument to the power of car culture in the 20th century, today the gas station has become increasing obsolete in the face of growing cities and increasing environmental awareness. Alternative energy sources and different modes of transit such as walking, biking, car sharing, and public transit have grown in popularity. As a result, the number of gas stations nationally has decreased since the 1970s, especially in urban contexts. While the redevelopment of gas station sites aims to increase density by filling the voids in the fabric once dedicated to the car, they typically fail to address the history of the site as an urban node in the circulation of people, vehicles, and energy. With their prime urban locations and past associations, the sites of former gas stations have the potential to become new nodes of distribution and communication in the city.

This thesis argues that the obsolesce of the urban gas station offers the potential for a new building type that will better serve today’s changing needs for transportation and distribution of energy. The proposal consists of the design for a small-scale urban amenity node, or “Energy Commons” in Seattle. The “Energy Commons” will combine utilitarian functions with a contextual neighborhood-based program through personal vehicle recharging, neighborhood co-working offices, cyclist and pedestrian amenities, and solar energy and water harvesting and storage. The goal is to transform the former car-centered and consumptive structure into a new public urban asset that is human focused and production-minded.