EVs are rapidly improving. It’s time to elevate Canadian highway chargingNews
Sep 13, 2021
James Paul

Electric Autonomy Canada, in partnership with Parkland, one of Canada’s leading national fuel retailers, are calling on architects and designers to rethink the roadside pit stop of today and reimagine electric-powered road trips of the future in a new charging station design competition

Electric Autonomy Canada, in partnership with Parkland, one of Canada’s leading national fuel retailers, is calling on architects and designers to rethink the roadside pit stop of today and reimagine electric-powered road trips of the future in a new charging station design competition

In an industry first in Canada, a design competition to create the public electric vehicle charging station of the future, with $40,000 in prize money, has launched.

Presented by Electric Autonomy Canada, and led by title sponsor, Parkland Corp., which supplies fuel to one in six gas stations in Canada, “The Electric Fuelling Station of the Future: A Design Competition” is intended to stimulate fresh ideas in the industry, start a new conversation around EVs and to take a leadership role in rethinking Canadian retail, convenience and energy supply models.

“A key area of misunderstanding is that electric cars are inconvenient on long trips because they can take 20 minutes or more to recharge,” says Nino Di Cara, founder of Electric Autonomy Canada. “EV drivers know that these planned charging stops often enhance their journeys, rather than diminish them.”

Added Ian White, senior vice president for strategic marketing and innovation at Parkland, “We are excited to partner with Electric Autonomy on this important competition and to work alongside fellow sponsors Cadillac, CIBC and Dentons. We are committed to providing innovative mobility solutions and look forward to being an active participant in a design competition which focusses on the emerging needs of EV customers.”

Calling all visionary designers

A core motivation for the design competition is to disprove common misconceptions about EVs and charging.

“Our hope is that this competition will spark a more holistic rethinking of the refuelling experience and explore the opportunities presented by the electrification of our infrastructure,” reads the competition website

With this perspective, architects, designers and cross-disciplinary teams are challenged to think about what the most inviting, effective and practical highway electric refuelling station will look like. The goal is a destination that’s more than a place to recharge vehicles, but “also ourselves.”

The competition hopes to:

  • Showcase the ambitions and leadership of Canada’s top thinkers in the energy industry.
  • Prompt conversations about road trips with EVs and how existing habits can be improved for the better.
  • Illustrate the differences between charging versus fuelling vehicles with gasoline, reducing range anxiety and assisting the public in preparing for the future.
  • Establish the competition’s sponsors and partners as leaders of Canada’s transition to EVs.

With a clear societal push towards a cleaner, greener future, the winning submissions of the design competition could very well move from the page to the real world to inform the “Electric Fuelling Station of the Future.”

Click the images below for larger versions for concepts and designs produced in other countries

Details and considerations

Proposals for site designs are accepted for submission between now and November 15, 2021. Judging will begin December 7, 2021 and the final winners will be announced February 1, 2022.

With $40,000 in total of prize money, first place will receive $25,000; second place will receive $10,000 and third place will receive $5,000. Every winner will also have their proposals shared with architectural magazines and websites.

After the announcement, Electric Autonomy Canada will launch an extensive consumer education campaign with images of the winners, their designs, and additional messaging for public education.

Entrants will be evaluated based on:

  • Innovative concept — Competition Judges are looking for an innovative approach to the program brief that curates a new experience for EV drivers and their passengers, reinventing the traditional roadway pitstop, and transforming the dwell time into a positive experience.
  • Design — Guests should be treated to a novel, visually pleasing experience at every turn.
  • Sustainability — Proposed concepts should prioritize sustainable materials and building techniques. We are looking for a positive energy strategy that reduces carbon and is implementable in Canada today.
  • Feasibility — Design concepts should be feasible, taking into account Canadian weather, should there be interest in commissioning a project. No levitating car parks please!

Some considerations for designing destination stops for EVs include:

  • EV drivers do not have to stay in or near their vehicle in order to refuel it.
  • Charging sessions can take 10 – 40 minutes, so there is plenty of opportunity for travellers to enjoy other experiences.
  • Charging EVs does not involve anything toxic or flammable at the station, and it’s a much quieter space; recharging can thus be done inside or outside, and should also account for driving in all four seasons.
  • Concepts should address each type of customer, from business travellers and families to light-duty commercial vehicle drivers.

Participant sponsors

In addition to inspiring the leading visionaries of design and architecture the design competition is also serving as a meeting point for stakeholders to converge, support and guide the transition to a EV-centric future.

Partners for the design competition, along with Electric Autonomy Canada, include:

  • Parkland — Presenting Sponsor;
  • Cadillac — Automotive Sponsor;
  • CIBC — Banking Sponsor; 
  • Dentons — Legal Sponsor
  • AVÉQ — Representing EV owners in Quebec; and
  • EV Society — Representing EV owners in English Canada.

Additional partners are also being confirmed.

Acclaimed judging panel

The panel of judges who will evaluate the proposals represents an illustrious cross-section of industry leaders and experts in architecture and design. We are pleased and honoured to be benefiting from the expertise and insights of our judges:

Claire Weisz, WXY
Born and raised in Alberta, Claire Weisz is the Founding Principal of New-York-based WXY architecture + urban design, which is globally recognized for its place-based approach to architecture, urban design, and planning. In 2019 Fast Company named WXY one of the World’s Most Innovative Architecture Firms.

Bruce Kuwabara, KPMB
Bruce Kuwabara is a recipient of the RAIC Gold Medal (2006) and an invested Officer of the Order of Canada (2012) for his significant contributions to Canadian architecture and for shaping “our built landscape in lasting ways.” He was the lead design partner on 13 of KPMB’s 16 Governor General’s Award-winning projects.

Peter Vikar, Local Projects
Peter Vikar is a visual artist and design professional whose work explores the intersection of art, architecture and technology. At Local Projects, the award-winning experience design studio in New York City, his recent credits include the ZERO Gallery for Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

Magalie Debellis, Cadillac
Magalie Debellis is the lead exterior designer for Cadillac, focused on design of the brand’s electric vehicle portfolio. She has over 14 years of automotive design experience and specializes in creating the exterior design profiles and attributes for major vehicle brands.

Ian White, Parkland
Ian White is responsible for defining the customer value proposition and competitive positioning for Parkland, a leading international retailer and fuel marketer. In 2018, Mr. White was recognized as the Retail Leader of the Year at the National Convenience Industry Summit.

Bindu Dhaliwal, CIBC
Bindu Dhaliwal is responsible for CIBC’s ESG strategy, identifying and evaluating emerging ESG issues, and engagement activities with CIBC’s stakeholders. She is a frequent speaker on sustainability trends in the financial services sector and diversity & equity issues in the sector.

Wilf Steimle, Electric Vehicle Society
Since 2016, Wilf Steimle has chaired the Electric Vehicle Society, which now represents the interests of the quarter million EV drivers in Canada. He has driven nearly 300,000 electric kilometres, charging coast-to-coast across Canada.

Nino Di Cara, Electric Autonomy Canada
Nino Di Cara is the founder of Electric Autonomy Canada and a passionate believer in the benefits of electrification. He is the recipient of the EV Society’s 2020 Howard Hutt Award for Excellence in the Advancement of Electric Transportation.

More details on the design competition are available at  designawards.electricautonomy.ca.

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