Ashley Thorner con High Octane: Re-Servicing the Service Station with Super-Natural Aesthetics (English Edition)My thesis study looks at how to transform, reinterpret and reinvent abandoned and defunct gas station sites, to incorporate them back into the urban environment in an appealing, ecologically functioning, and aesthetically powerful way. To achieve this transformation, I have taken a holistic approach, involving culture and landscape, art, and ecology, seeing the sites as palimpsests. In general, this approach to reinvention and reincorporation, applied on a small scale to common-place
(problem) sites, addresses bigger issues involved with remediation of damaged landscapes.
One of the inspirations behind my thesis is the word “super-natural,” which I use as a term to signify going beyond a purely “natural” design. A super-natural aesthetic blurs and blends elements from the natural world and the constructed world to
create a whole design that is stronger, healthier and more eye-catching than its components are individually. It takes a site beyond the norms of scale,form, composition, or content. As a result it defies explanation or convention, and does so in a manner that enhances the use, experience, and the health of the site. It embraces the very “nature” of the site and transforms it into a hybrid that is composed of the best of the components, synthesized into an even greater whole.
Using five distinct sites, I focused on creating small urban pocket parks, “vest pocket” parks that co-opted functional gas station buildings and transformed them into community service structures. This approach re-services these sites into socially useful, ecologically healthy, and aesthetically distinctive spaces for the local community to enjoy.
I believe my super-natural aesthetic, when applied to defunct gas station sites, can add the appeal of contrasting impactful elements. By integrating culturally-based remnants (gas station infrastructure), the human intentionality of art and pattern, and the bold departure from expectations in design and use patterns, I create an approach that not only avoids the
“ploddingness” of an unappealing design, but also shows the excitement and interest that can come from playing with the “superlatives” of the sites.