The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Petrol Station

By Attila Nagy on at

Petrol stations might be boring or even ugly places, but for the most part, you can’t avoid stopping by one on a long trip. But, there have been so many more incredible designs beyond the basic columns, roof and shop over their history.

The following 60+1 petrol stations encompass almost a century of architectural progression, showcasing some of the best Art Deco, Bauhaus, futurist, brutalist, minimalist, modernist, Googie building designs of the motorist history. Enjoy the ride!

Lawrence’ filling station in Clapham, south London, 1921.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Topical Press Agency/Getty Images


A rural petrol station with a cosy waiting room in Colnbrook, England, 1927.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Hulton Archive/Getty Images


Ragsdale and Hansen’s Station No. 1., with a touch of Art Deco. Los Angeles, California, ca.1920-1929.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: USCDL


Gilmore Oil Company’s Blu-Green petrol station. Los Angeles, California, ca.1920-1929.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: USCDL


A motorist refueling his Renault car at a bucolic Shell filling station at Blashford, Hampshire, England, 1930.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Fox Photos/Getty Images


Art Deco service station and showroom. Norment Motor Co., Inc., Lumberton, N. C. ca. 1930–1945.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Boston Public Library


Geo. W. Wilcox, Inc., 100 Federal St., Greenfield, Massachusetts, ca. 1930–1945.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Boston Public Library


Roarin’ Rohrer’s Streamline Moderne petrol station, McAlester, Oklahoma, ca. 1930–1945.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Boston Public Library


An Art Deco Liberty petrololine service station, Southern California, 1931.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: USCDL


A new hacienda style Union Oil petrol station, Southern California, 1932.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: USCDL


petrololine Mosque: an Union Oil Service station with strong Islamic influence. North Alexandria Avenue & Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, 1932.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: USCDL


Moorish touch: Beacon Oil Company petrol Station, 107 Winn Street, Woburn, Middlesex County, Massachusetts.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Library of Congress


Lighthouse mixed with Mexican style. Union Oil station, Southern California, 1933

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: USCDL


Shell petrol station in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, built in the late 1930s by the Quality Oil Company.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Carol M. Highsmith/Library of Congress


A beautifully restored Art Deco Conoco petrololine station in Shamrock, Texas. (Built in 1936.)

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Carol M. Highsmith/Library of Congress


The Skovshoved Tankstation is a functionalist style petrol station in Skovshoved, Denmark, designed by Arne Jacobsen, opened in 1936.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: © Villy Fink Isaksen, Wikimedia Commons, License cc-by-sa-3.0


‘Auto Palace’ service station for Texaco, in Nijmegen, Netherlands, 1936. Architects: B.J. Meerman and Johan van der Pijll.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Paul van Galen/Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed


The legendary Fiat Tagliero, a Futurist-style service station in Asmara, Eritrea. Designed by the Italian architect Giuseppe Pettazzi, completed in 1938.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: sailko/Wikimedia Commons


A little Bauhaus gem: Shell self-service petrol station near Purkersdorf, Austria, c1940.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Muzeum Antikvarium


An Art Deco Gilmore petrol station, Los Angeles, California, c1940.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: USCDL


Art Deco Union Oil station, c1940.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: 76


Streamline Moderne: Richfield petrol station in Redding, California, 1942.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Russell Lee/Library of Congress


Firestone filling station, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1942.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: John Vachon/Library of Congress


A motorist refuelling his Standard Vanguard at a rural Shell petrol station in Eastbourne, East Sussex, 1949.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: William Vanderson/Fox Photos/Getty Images


The Italian art of steel and reinforced concrete: Aquila service station, Sesto San Giovanni (MI), Italy, 1949. Architect: Aldo Favini.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Fondazione Favini


Another Streamline Moderne beauty: a Guul filling station, United States, c1950

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images


A YPF (Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales) petrol station in Chacarita, Buenos Aires, 1951.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Archivo General de la Nación (AGN)/Wikimedia Commons


A beautiful futuristic petrol station, Piazzale Accursio, Milan, Italy. Designed by architect Mario Bacciocchi, 1954.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Aldo Ballo/alessandromenini.it


Designed by German architect professor, Walter Haemer, this Dea service station has a roof that is suspended on steel ropes hanging from concrete arch. Hannover, Germany, 1956.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: AP


Agip service station, Moncalieri, Italy, 1958

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: ENI


Agip service station, San Donato Milanese, Italy, 1958

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: ENI


Agip service station, Cerignola, Italy, 1958

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: ENI


Purfina service station, Arnhem, Netherlands, 1958

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Hans Pies/GVNL


Agip service station on state highway 16, Barletta, Italy, 1959

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: ENI


Nice hyperboloid structure: a 90-ton reinforced concrete roof at a National service station in Retford, England, 1961.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: AP


Carousel or petrol station? Turnbull’s self-service petrol station in Plymouth, Devon, 1963.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images


A forward leaning steel structure. Alamo petrol station, Serape Belt, East Los Angeles, 1964.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Ellis R. Bosworth/AP


Pepetrolus petrol station. Designed by Elliot Noyes for Mobil, 1964.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Detroit Public Library


The Sinclair Super Service Station was built exclusively for the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Sinclair Oil The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationScreencaps: Sinclair Oil


A Googie architecture masterpiece: the Jack Colker Union 76 petrol station in Beverly Hills, designed by William Pereira (Gin Wong Associates), 1965.


Another Googie gem: Orbit petrol station, Sacramento, 1960s. Space age design at its best!


Brutalist beauty: Milan Mihelič petrol station Petrol, Ljubljana, 1968.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Démodé postcards//Démodé postcards


The modernist flying saucer of Council Plaza, St. Louis, 1968. Architects: Schwarz & Van Hoefen. It was originally a Phillips 66 petrol station.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Paul Sableman


Fueling station with reinforced concrete roof, Baghdad, Iraq (built c1970).

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division Public Affairs


Wing shaped concrete roof on a petrol station in Baghdad, Iraq (built c1970).

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images


A modern and colorful AGIP station, somewhere in Italy, 1972.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Fortean


EP Southbank Service Station, London, 1973.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Evening Standard/Getty Images


The ugliest yet most popular petrol station design, you can see everywhere beside the roads nowadays.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Scott Olson/Getty Images


Repsol Service Stations, Spain, designed by architect Norman Foster, 1997.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Repsol


A futuristic PetroChina petrol station in Wuhai, China, 2004.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Greg Baker/Getty Images


The neo-futurist Helios House, Los Angeles, designed by Office dA in Boston and Johnston Marklee Architects in Los Angeles, built in 2007.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Collins


21st century modern: A1 petrol Station, Madrid, Spain. Designed by Moneo-Brock, 2007.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Moneo-Brock


Eco station with photovoltaic roof: Acciona service station, Legarda, Spain. Designed by ah asociados, 2007.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: José Manuel Cutillas/ah asociados


Norwegian wood: Statoil petrol station, Hommelstø, Velfjord, Norway, 2008.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Johan Arnt Groven/Wikimedia Commons


Litro Premium petrol Station by Eight Inc. for Rompetrol, Bucharest, Romania, 2009.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Eight Inc.


United Oil petrololine Station, Los Angeles, California. Designed by Kanner Architects, 2009.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: United Pacific


Gazoline Petrol Station, Cuneo, Italy, by architects Duilio Damilano and Alberto Pascale, 2011.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Duilio Damilano/Archilovers


petrol Station designed by Adam Jirkal & Jerry Koza (Atelier SAD), Slovakia, Matúškovo, 2011.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Atelier SAD


Fuel Station + McDonald’s, Batumi, Georgia, by Giorgi Khmaladze Architects, 2012-13.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Giorgi Khmaladze


Esposende petrol Station by Caldeira Figueiredo Arquitectos, Esposende, Portugal, 2013.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: Caldeira Figueiredo


And the future is here: Tesla-Supercharger-station, Aosta, Italy.

The Amazing Architectural Evolution of the Filling StationImage: id metalco