Iranian gas stations architecture: elegant and exotic!

The architecture of gas stations, especially in the past, was often an example of creativity and originality. Let’s discover more about gas stations of one of the most ancient oil-producing countries: Iran, or former Persia!

First gas stations in Iran

There’s no evident information about the first gas station built in Iran, but the news about the first automobile imported to Iran by Mozafaredin Shah, indicates that petrol was initially imported from Russia.

After the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (best known as BP) was established, there were a limited number of automobiles in Iran; oil products were supplied in petrol shops under the name of Pars petrol and Nakhli kerosene.

Most of the early gas stations built in Iran had the same structure, and the only authentic information about them can be extracted from the “Iran and Tehran Guide Book”, published in December 1951 by the geographical bureau of Iranian Army, under the supervision of General Razmara.

BP gas station in Iran, 1940s

Ten gas stations in Tehran are listed in the book:

1- Pahlavi Street, Gomrok crossroad.

2- Shahreza Street.

3- Rey Street.

4- Boozarjomehri Street.

5 – Darvaze Shemiran street, Jelo khan Majles.

6- Sa’di street, Darvaze Dolat.

7- Nezami street, Next to Baghshah.

8- Edam square.

9- Hafez Street, Yoosefabad cross road, Shahreza.

10- Darvaze Ghazvin, Karaj old road.

Actually, the best example remaining today is Darvaze Dolat gas station, the third petrol station built in Tehran in 1941, which is now a museum.

Description of the structure

Most of the gas stations consisted of 3 square rooms of about 14 square meters. The buildings had a main entrance, made of bricks forming a massive arch, decorated with mosaics and multi-coloured tiles. This area had a unique function and was called “the manager’s room”. In the middle of the entrance, a glass window was used by the manager to control the station. There were also fire-resistant safes in the room. The same arch is seen on top of all windows.

The room on the right was used as a dormitory for personnel; here there were lockers for each staff member. The room on the left was a technical room, used for electrical equipment.

In the 1980s a room, called kerosene branch, was annexed to the building; here motor oil and kerosene were sold.

Decorative details of the building

As mentioned before, the building has a main entrance with a protrusion decorated all around with Mosaic tiles, and multi-coloured tiles on top of the window frames.

Details of a window

A yellow-green BP symbol is visible in the architecture of the building, formed as tile rows mounted on top of the windows and around the door frames.

Often the BP logos were replaced by National Iranian Petroleum sign after the nationalization of the petroleum industries in Iran.

Construction materials

Most of the materials used in the construction of the buildings are English bricks with cement and gravel concrete tuckpointing. The interior walls are stuccoed with plaster.

At first, there was only one platform with two gas pumps; later the number of platforms and pumps was increased and finally canopies were installed in 1970s.

There are curbs of orange and black (yellow or blue occasionally) in the petrol station, in order to make it distinguishable from far distances.

Ida Mofakhami & Hojat Mohsenhaqiqi

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