I’ve dreamed about this place all my childhood.
Each time I was driving with my family towards the highway, just a few minutes after leaving home, it was there, right on my left: a marvelous spaceship shaped gas station, the perfect architectural frame for my future independent life.
On the ground floor the mechanic shop and the gasoline pumps (that could easily be transformed in my office) and upstairs, surrounded by a flat, circular terrace, suspended in the vacuum, the apartment.
I could easily picture myself living there as the character of one of my favorite cartoons at the time: the Jetsons. They seemed to be totally relieved from domestic chores and completely replaced in their duties by funny shaped robots. Just what I wanted. Living in that cosmonaut environment would have liberated me from all those boring matters that seemed to distress my mom so much.
The years went by, the mechanic closed his business, I grew up and stopped watching cartoons but soon after, without any manager’s care, the gas station started to look more and more run down.
Driving by my dream house and seeing it in that condition was painful because if you asked me I could still live there with a pleasure. My taste haven’t change that much.
A couple of years ago a friend of ours who was teaching at the Politecnico in Milanproposed his students to develop a project on the re qualification of the structure. The students were requested to imagine alternative public usage of the area hoping that Agip (a very well known oil company who is the actual owner of the gas station) would invest some money to give it a second life.
We were invited to see the student’s presentation and it was very emotional for me to step in a place I dreamed about for so many years and host my fanciful plans for such a long time. While I was pretending to watch the students boards I was once again trapped in my fantasies and I started to picture my future house but this time from a very new perspective: its interiors!!!
Our friend was so kind to give us a very interesting book published by the Politecnico di Milano along with the exhibition from which I learned a lot about the architect Mario Bacciocchi, his activity related to Agip and the gas stations he designed all over the country in the ‘50s.
In those years Italy was overtaking the war horrors and running towards the economic boom of the ‘60s; more cars were sold and a new drive for modern infrastructure was growing.
From 1952 to 1958 Mario Bacciocchi, graduated at the Politecnico di Milano, was in fact a close collaborator of Enrico Mattei, founder of Eni, the national energy company. His futuristic style has visually shaped our idea of traveling, giving a recognizable style to all those service structures Italians were meeting on the roads they were more and more often using to reach leisure and vacation places.
I was there, one of them, sitting in the car back sit, dreaming to order a pills meals to my maid robot, fully convinced the future was a step forward from me.
photos: Zoe Beltran minus The Jetsons image courtesy of Hanna Barbera.