Editorial Feature

What to Know About the Battersea Power Station Redevelopment

London’s iconic Grade II listed Battersea Power Station has just reopened after significant investment into repurposing the building for the 21st century. Costing £9 billion, the revamped Battersea Power Station opened on the fourteenth of October 2022.

Image Credit: Peter Landers 

History of Battersea Power Station

Built in the 1930s, Battersea Power Station was designed by architects Giles Gilbert Scott and J. Theo Halliday. Dominating the London skyline with its iconic four-chimney structure, Battersea Power Station is one of the largest brick buildings in the world. At one time, one-fifth of all of London’s power demands were met by the station. The station was coal-powered, with oil being used as a secondary fuel in Battersea A power station.

Aside from its immediately recognizable profile which defines the area of the south bank of the Thames it is situated in, this building is also notable for its lavish internal art deco fittings and details. The iconic building has also entered the pop culture lexicon, being featured in the album artwork for Pink Floyd’s seminal 1977 album “Animals.” It has appeared in several video games, movies, and music videos.

After its closure in the 1970s, Battersea Power Station sadly saw a period of decline until the last decade, when work started on renovating this iconic London landmark after it was put on the open market for sale. In 2021, an extension to the London Underground’s Northern line serving Battersea Power Station (as well as Nine Elms) was completed at a cost of £1.1 billion.

Restoring an Iconic London Landmark for the 21st Century

In 2013, WilkinsonEyre was appointed to carry out the redevelopment work. Many proposals had come before, all unsuccessful, including housing, a theme park, a biomass power station, an eco-dome, and a purpose-built stadium for Chelsea Football Club. WilkinsonEyre’s redevelopment plan celebrates the original features of Battersea whilst creating a contemporary space for the 21st century.

Image Credit: Peter Landers

Retaining the power station’s vast sense of scale and drama, whilst paying attention to individual material choices, WilkinsonEyre has married London’s industrial past with the hyper-modernism of the city’s current evolution. Retaining this iconic landmark’s scale and drama is central to the new redevelopment, with the chimneys and turbine rooms remaining the dominant features and central focus.

It has been a privilege to restore and transform this iconic building, not only saving and celebrating the original features but creating interventions which bring the structure alive again. I’m excited that these incredible volumes – the Turbine Halls and Boiler House – will, for the first time, be open to all. We’ve taken great inspiration from Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in everything from the drama and scale right through to individual material choices and I hope this is reflected in the experience of residents and visitors.

Sebastien Ricard, Director at WilkinsonEyre

To retain this scale and visual drama, the architects have employed features such as a vast central atrium and full-height voids between the station’s northern and southern entrances. Retail galleries in the open, unobstructed turbine halls have completely changed the use of these spaces whilst providing a sense of the past still existing in the here and now.

Retail

Several retail giants have snapped up space at the newly redeveloped Battersea Power Station, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Adidas, Boss, Breitling, Calvin Klein, Lacoste, L’Occitane, Levi’s, Paperchase, The Body Shop, and Zara. Cafes, international restaurants, coffee shops, food halls, gourmet chocolatiers, and bookshops have taken up residence in this major architectural project.

Office Space

With light filtering to all office floors and a view of Battersea’s iconic chimneys, Battersea is attracting several international creative occupants to its open-plan office spaces. The largest tenant is Apple, who have taken over 46,000m2 across six floors of the redevelopment.

We are delighted that the Grade II* listed Battersea Power Station, one of London’s most recognised and cherished landmarks, is opening its doors to the public. The sheer scale and condition of the Power Station presented major challenges to its repair and reuse. But through years of dedication and partnership working, together we have ensured that the building’s major conservation needs have been met. This transformational redevelopment has secured a bright future for the building, with exciting uses that bring the public inside for the first time and show the power of our industrial heritage and its potential for regeneration.

Emily Gee, Historic England Regional Director

Event Spaces

Control Room A has been repurposed as an event space and the development will play host to entertainment venues such as the Cinema at the Power Station. November 2022 will see the opening of Glide, a riverside ice rink unique in London. The open-air ice rink will be open seven days a week until January 2023, and visitors will also be able to take a ride on vintage funfair rides.

Several other events are planned for the redevelopment, making Battersea one of the premier London destinations for entertainment and fun.

Residential Units

Aside from its repurposing for commercial, retail, event, and office space purposes, the redevelopment includes a number of residential units. A mix of apartments, villas, and conversion units have been built in the old station’s Switch House East and Switch House West, as well as on the roof of the boiler house, surrounding an open garden square. The first residents moved in in 2021.

Image Credit: Peter Landers

The Chimney Lift

One intriguing feature of the revamped Battersea is Lift 109, which will carry up to thirty passengers to the top of one of the iconic chimney stacks, affording 360o views of the capital, 109 meters above the ground. Open to both the public and for private events, this is sure to be a major draw for visitors. An exhibition on the history of Battersea Power Station in Turbine Hall A will complete the experience.

Connecting the Past with the Future

The completely revamped Battersea Power Station will connect the contemporary and the historic in London, providing a wealth of retail, commercial, and entertainment spaces for both residents and visitors to this iconic London landmark. This ambitious project demonstrates that the redevelopment of major urban areas can both be forward-looking and sympathetic to the history of urban areas.

References and Further Reading 

WilkinsonEyre (2022) Battersea Power Station [online] wilkinsoneyre.com. Available at:

https://www.wilkinsoneyre.com/projects/battersea-power-station

Battersea Power Station – Homepage [online] Available at:

https://batterseapowerstation.co.uk/

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Reginald Davey

Written by

Reginald Davey

Reg Davey is a freelance copywriter and editor based in Nottingham in the United Kingdom. Writing for AZoNetwork represents the coming together of various interests and fields he has been interested and involved in over the years, including Microbiology, Biomedical Sciences, and Environmental Science.

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