Gehry Partners and Foster + Partners have revealed designs for their work on the Battersea Power Station, a development centered on the famous, decommissioned London coal-burning power plant designed by Giles Gilbert Scott.
The architects are responsible for phase 3 of the effort to adapt and reuse the plant, which includes adding some 1,300 residential units, a 160-room hotel, 350,000 square feet of retail, and the Electric Boulevard, a new high street for London. The street will be the center of the 42-acre siteand "the main gateway to the entire Battersea development," according to the release.
The development—a collaboration that represents the first Gehry Partners project in London—is the third phase in building out some 3,400 homes and space for offices, restaurants, and retail in a master plan designed by Rafael Viñoly, FAIA.
The adaptation of the Battersea Power Station, a London icon located on the River Thames, is one of a recent trend in development projects. Reclaiming valuable urban riverfront parcels from unused utilities has emerged as a priority for municipal authorities. But reusing decommissioned power plants can be a steep order for cities and for architects.
Jeanne Gang, FAIA, is adapting the 167-year-old Blackhawk Generating Station in Beloit, Wis., as a student center and gym for Beloit College. David Adjaye is transforming the vacant West Heating Plant in Washington, D.C., into what will be the most expensive condos in the tony neighborhood of Georgetown. Converting Austin's iconic Art Deco Seaholm Power Plant into the anchor tenant for a development that includes a 30-story luxury residential tower and a new central library is an expensive undertaking. So are most power-plant conversions, due to environmental-remediation site requirements and crumbling buildings that may be considered historic, as Aaron Wiener outlined for ARCHITECT late last year.
“Post-industrial buildings and landscapes pose a great challenge to cities,” Gang told ARCHITECT in December.
The stakes couldn't be higher in London, where U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has described the Battersea Power Station project as the "jewel in the crown" of Nine Elms, a district targeted for regeneration on the South Bank in London. An extension of the London Underground Northern Line services the Battersea site.
For phase 3, Gehry Partners has designed five buildings east of the Electric Boulevard, including the so-called Flower building. The buildings comprise the Prospect Place development. On the west side of Electric Boulevard, Foster + Partners is designing a building described as "the Skyline," owing to its undulating roof. The roof of the building will be one of the largest rooftop gardens in London.
The fate of the Battersea Power Station itself—which has served as the backdrop for films by Alfred Hitchcock, Monty Python, and the Beatles—was not a sure thing as recently as 2012, when the Chelsea FC soccer club was looking to turn the plant into a stadium. The Viñoly plan calls for each of the plant's four chimneys to be demolished then reconstructed (a common fate for the iconic but potentially corroded features of dormant plants).
The Battersea Power Station development effort brings together some of the best architectural talent in the west, including Rafael Viñoly, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Terry Farrell, Allies and Morrison, and KieranTimberlake, working across a total of seven construction phases.