A new design competition took a stab at what the future of electric vehicle charging could look like.
On Tuesday, news outlet Electric Autonomy announced the winners of its international competition that sought to reimagine EV charging stations. Parkland, a fuel retailer and the competition’s lead sponsor, said it plans to implement the winning design in at least one charging station in British Columbia.
The top three designs reimagine charging stations as destinations, rather than bare-bones stops along the way. James Silvester, the lead architect at JAS Group and the winner of the competition, said in a press release that he created his design as a space “to be enjoyed” rather than “simply a process on the journey.”
Silvester’s design has an oblong shape and includes sustainable elements like rainwater collection and solar energy harvesting. The design also relies heavily on timber — a nod to one of Canada’s top resources.
The roof overhang is designed to provide relief from harsh Canadian weather, while the solar-powered lights make the station easy to see from the road.
The design focuses on allowing drivers to relax and “recharge” alongside their vehicle, Silvester said.
The charging station would include a fitness center, garden, art gallery, and farmer’s market.
Ian White, senior vice president of strategic marketing and innovation at Parkland, said the intent of the design competition was to create envy among gas drivers by turning a 20 to 40-minute process that is typically tedious into an immersive and enjoyable experience.
Second and third place designs also focused on sustainability, as well as providing entertainment and community at the charging stations.
The runner up was created by Selçuk Kişmir, an architect based out of Istanbul, Turkey.
The charging station has a circular design and includes spaces for drivers to work as well as play outside with their children.
Third place designer Pavel Babiienko, an architect based out of Berlin, said he wanted to create an environment were people could relax and find community with other EV drivers, as well find space to work and study.
The station design includes an outdoor play area, as well as a cafe.
Charging infrastructure poses a major hurdle for electric-vehicle adoption. Insider’s Dominick Reuter previously reported that one in five EV owners has switched back to gas cars because charging represented too much of a “hassle.”
During the summer, CNBC reporter Brian Sullivan and Axios editor Dan Primack broke down several of the issues EV drivers can face on the road — from “panicked” searches for open chargers to waiting 40 minutes in triple-digit heat for a car to recharge. Both drivers concluded that the best way to help drivers make the switch to electric cars would be to turn charging stations into destinations.
“Give people a place to stop, shop,” Sullivan said. “Give them something to do.”
By reimagining charging stations instead of duplicating gas stations, EV companies would follow Tesla’s lead. Several Tesla charging stations include lounges with coffee bars, vending machines, and Tesla merchandise. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has even considered building a charging station with a restaurant attached.