How Temporary is Temporary?

How Temporary is Temporary?

Two years is not a long time in the life of buildings, but it is quite a stretch for a “temporary” structure.  On a large redevelopment project in London, the site of an abandoned gas station was slated to be transformed into housing, but the start of construction was two years away.  The developers thought it could become something else in the meantime.

Architects Carmody Groarke found a low-cost, recyclable solution that makes the short-term nature of the project more affordable as well as architecturally interesting: they wrapped the existing structure and some of its surrounding drive area in a screen of sculpted FRP panels that isolate it from the nearby roadway (an inherent challenge in converting former gas stations).  They utilized the translucency of the panels to give the location pleasingly filtered interior light during the day, and colored lighting adds a distinctive look at night.

When it’s time to demolish the station, the panels can be used elsewhere on the site for another project.



Within an urban context, pop-up architecture can transform disused sites into venues for an alternative purpose and audience. An abandoned petrol station by the Regent’s Canal in London’s rapidly developing King’s Cross district provided such an opportunity for architects Carmody Groarke, who integrated the existing structures into their design for a multifunctional space containing a restaurant and arts venue.

 The site has been allocated for housing as part of the area’s grand overhaul but, for the intervening two years, the developers chose to hand it over to pop-up restaurant veterans Pablo Flack and David Waddington, who previously worked with Carmody Groarke on Studio East, a temporary dining venue built from scaffolding and plastic sheeting overlooking the Olympic Park construction site.

The Filling Station’s semi-permanent nature informed the choice of materials and building techniques used in its assemblage. Translucent fibreglass panels wrap around the existing infrastructure on the site, creating curves and angles that add interest to the exterior aspects, while shielding the space from the busy roads that flank the site on two sides. The petrol station’s original canopy and forecourt have been retained to create a sheltered space for events and talks, while the kiosk has been transformed into a dining room looking onto the canal. At the end of the Filling Station’s residency, the panels and the scaffolding skeleton holding them in place will be dismantled and reused elsewhere in the King’s Cross development.


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