FINAL PROKALO THIS TERM: Ernesto Valero Thomas

Join the Prokalo team and Ernesto Valero Thomas, our final presenter this term for discussion, wine and nibbles:

Energy and Space: Mapping Networks of Gasoline Stations in the Dispersed City 


PROKALO_Ernesto Valero_WEB



This paper studies spatial networks of gasoline stations, one of the most ubiquitous infrastructures of mobility in urban and non-urban habitats. Gasoline stations have been objects of interest in the fields of architecture and urban studies over the last fifty years. Frank Lloyd Wright completed the R. W. Lindholm Service Station in 1958. The design of this building foresaw the role of filling stations as part of the aesthetic condition of cities in the 20th century. The aim of the work is to represent these infrastructures in a contemporary emerging city. The settlement is Ciudad Obregon (ca. 450,000 people), located in the region of the Gulf of California, Mexico. How do we measure the impact of gasoline stations in developing settlements? One approach is to represent their networks and the spatial boundaries that they form. This work analyses gasoline stations through a method that allows position, magnitude and pattern of arrangements to bring forward new interpretations of these buildings. The cartographic method consists on GPS-based maps and photographs captured on the ground. As the cartographic evidences suggest, the circulation of gasoline is pervasive. Gasoline stations are located in territories that have undergone major expansion. These infrastructures serve as architectural markers of spatial boundaries. They signify zones of state and capital power. Gasoline stations are catalysts that intensify the continuous movement of people, energy, and knowledge in rural and urban areas, regardless of their administrative or political borders.


In June 2015 Ernesto successfully defended his PhD at the University of Edinburgh. His research focuses on designing cartographic and visual methods of representation in the built environment. The aim is to shape architectural practices, digital technologies, and cultural narratives of environmental sustainability in developing contexts. His work has been published in academic journals from the United States (UCLA) and Mexico (UNAM). Ernesto arrived to the University of Edinburgh in 2009 to pursue the MSc Advanced Sustainable Design. Prior to that Ernesto completed a BArch from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). His explorations have been presented at international conferences in Germany, the Netherlands, France, Scotland and Ireland. Ernesto has exercised the analysis of environmental sustainability through teaching at the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA). His blog: