The dispensers of the earth

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Fuel from the litre bottle, the tank in a Tipi shape, Golden petrol pumps in the desert – a new image band shows the unusual world of gasoline sales. A treasure trove for car – and architecture fans.


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Tomas Soucek / Design

By Matthias Kriegel

Sunday, 06.05.2018
At 07:52

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The first attendant in the world, a pharmacist was. And the marveled is probably not bad, as at 5. August of the year 1888, a woman bought up his entire stock of Ligroin (benzine). What did the pharmacist: It is Bertha Benz, wife of inventor Carl Benz, who had signed three years before the Patent for the first automobile with an internal combustion engine.

To date, the success of which was due to grow, “the road belongs to the horses”, it was said, for example, in the press. Carl Benz was about to give up, but one Morning, grabbed his wife in the car and embarked on the first overland journey in automotive history: the 106 kilometers from Mannheim to Pforzheim. Because the Tank of the rattling proto-type was much too small for such long distances, was Bertha Benz, so to speak, in Passing, that in baden-württemberg, Wiesloch was the first petrol station in the world.

The pointed punch pharmacy, and their Successors, in a new book from the Gestalten Verlag – “Beautiful Refuelling stations and their stories” – is now a monument. On 240 pages, the image and text band takes a trip around the world. From Germany to Ireland, via the United States to Myanmar: 130 years after Bertha Benz was the first truck driver of the story, is no longer a world without a tank to imagine.

There used to be the great Zapf-diversity

Hardly a building is as universal as the one with the petrol pumps – no matter where a gas station is always identifiable as such. However, while the European street scene is today dominated by the big petrol station chains in their bright “Form follows function”-buildings, on other parts of the world is quite different. In Europe, considerably greater variety prevailed earlier. Small private companies opened on the roadside, quirky, original, amazing beer pumps. “Better fill up”, therefore, is not only a world, but also a trip back in time.

In seven chapters, a Nice Refueling portrays more than a hundred-year-old Black-and-White photographs artfully taken, long-abandoned gas stations on Route 66. As the gasoline began at the beginning of the last century, gradually travel in Europe, grew in parallel, the demand for fuel. Pharmacies, but drugstores, Hotels or restaurants developed to dealers as a rule, the right of the Petrol.

In the twenty years that spilled over from the USA a new architecture, the ocean, in the years to follow, should manifest the the gas station. Responsible for Henry Ford, who had made with the Ford Model T the car into a mass product, and ensured it was, in effect, that new gas station concepts developed. A dispenser, a ticket booth, a price table and a canopy – up to today has kept this basic layout.

Tank democratic places are

However, even if this concept is subject to a global consensus, the book clearly illustrates the large game room architects in the construction of gas stations. The post-war period in Europe, when the streets were suddenly full, the book in the sixties in America, considered the heyday of the gas station. The bibliophile’s journey continues to the architectural Highlights out of Iraq, Spain or Greece, showing Improvisation skills from Siberia or temporary sales huts in Asia, where the petrol cost reasons, today is still partly in the water bottles were sold. The world of gas stations is not only colorful as the neon lights of large oil companies, but also architecturally playful.

And curious. A fuel feeder in a 1500 year-old tree stump; a farmer finds in his field, an oil Well, and is one of the largest fuel supplier to America (Gilmore Gas); a fully gold-plated gas station in the desert landscape of Iraq is being fueled everywhere. And who doesn’t want to attract drivers with cheap prices, thinks of what is.

“Nice Tanking” shows gas stations as social meeting points, a sort of Mini-melting pot of all moving masses of the people. Who drove the car, had to fill it with. Whether Cadillac Eldorado or Volkswagen beetle, is whether Porsche Panamera or Opel Adam at the pump, there are no differences. The US TV host Jay Leno writes in the Preface aptly: “gas stations are democratic places. Everyone needs time to refuel, just like any die and his tax return must make.”

Verlag (Hrsg.): “Nice Refueling stations, and their stories”, 2018, 240 pages, 39,90 Euro.

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