Last week, Allies & Morrison architects revealed their very pragmatic proposal for the Battersea Power Station. The design suggests that the Station is converted into an arena. There has been much debate lately with regards to a new research that suggests the demolition of the Battersea Power Station, which is one of the most iconic structures in London. The Station, which has been vacant since it was decommissioned in 1983, was recently put up for sale on the open market.
Over the years, many uses have been proposed for the revival of the Battersea Power Station including a biomass power station, an eco-dome and a shopping mall. In fact, the roof of the building was removed and left its interior exposed to the weather, which caused further damage, because its last owner decided to turn the Station into an urban theme park.
Last October the site, which has been sold 3 three times so far, was valued for £500 million and it will be sold with a planning permission for a £5 billion mixed-use development and the requirement for the Station’s restoration. However, a new research suggests that the site would be more financially valuable if the Station was flattened. Demolition would allow 1,200 extra flats to be built and save the renovation costs, which are almost equivalent to the cost of the demolition and construction combined.
If such a symbolic building is demolished and the development proves to be financially successful, a dangerous precedence would be established for neglected historic buildings that require a lot of money for their restoration. Interestingly, Terry Farrel and Partners is going to submit a listed building application, at its own cost, to allow only some parts of the Station to be demolished.
Farrell’s proposal suggests that the most important parts of the grade II listed power station, including the front and back walls, the chimneys and the art deco control rooms to be preserved while allow others to be demolished. This would reduce the cost of repairing the building from £90m to £25m.
Terry Farrell’s initiative seems to be the most realistic proposal. The most iconic elements of the building are its chimneys; keeping them whilst creating an abstract outline of its shape with colonnades, will preserve an indication of its scale and the voids would express its previous monumental mass.
Architectonista’s eccentric proposal is that the Battersea Power Station due to its context and symbolism is ideal for becoming Alain de Botton’s Atheist Cathedral. Nevertheless, in our current economic climate, the notion of a heroic developer jeopardising his profit for the sake of preserving a historic building is comically romantic. The Battersea Power Station has been a temple of power, perhaps its death will be as symbolic as its presence and in full accordance with our current ethical code, where worship turns to ignorance if anything stops making money…
*The Battersea Power Station was on the cover of Pink Floyd’s “Animals” album.