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Farrell to submit speculative Battersea Power Station plans

Terry Farrell and Partners is set to submit a fresh planning application for Battersea Power Station as part of a bid to save Giles Gilbert Scott’s brick icon from total demolition

The speculative, self-funded scheme resolves the ‘prohibitive costs of refurbishing the power station’ by clearing away all but the front and back walls and art deco control rooms. According to Farrell the plans would be free for any future developer to use if approved.

The feasibility and cost of restoring the landmark has been increasingly questioned in recent months after Rafael Viñoly’s £5.5 billion scheme to revamp the building as part of a mixed-use masterplan hit the buffers late last year.

Farrells – which has teamed up with Alan Baxter of Alan Baxter Associates – claimed its approach was widely recognised as the ‘only alternative’ to comprehensive demolition of the coal fired power station which has lain empty since it was decommissioned in 1983.

The announcement came just days after it was claimed flattening the disused Grade II*-listed south London landmark could increase the site value by up to £470 million.

Studio founder Terry Farrell – who is a design advisor to London mayor Boris Johnson – floated the vision as the ‘only way to unblock’ the site and save ‘cherished parts’ of the building.

The proposal to remove parts of the building and build a colonnade screen connecting the two flank walls with parkland in the centre and housing on the rest of the site was first revealed shortly after Viñoly’s project went under in December.

A new owner could purchase the site from administrators Ernst & Young when it goes on sale this spring however it is unclear whether Viñoly’s vision will be resurrected.

The Uruguayan starchitect has since teamed up with KPF on developer Almacantar’s proposal to build a 60,000-seat stadium for Chelsea Football Club at Battersea Power Station which could require partial demolition or alteration of the protected building.

In an interview with The Evening Standard, Terry Farrell said: ‘Giles Gilbert Scott is one of the greatest architects of the 20th Century and to bring this monumental temple alive again would be incredibly exciting. I believe that submitting a listed building application is the only way forward now, in order to preserve the iconic parts of the power station and unblock the “bigness” that has thwarted all previous attempts to redevelop it. 

‘The most important thing is the relationship of the mass overall to the great void inside and I find all attempts to fill it up and to make money – whether shopping, leisure, conferencing or a football stadium - deeply upsetting. The glorious sculptural remains of Fountains Abbey or the Parthenon in Athens have a retained sense of their spatial order. Our proposal for a colonnade and park retains the sense of the great void inside as well as the external view of the silhouette. What is most important is to celebrate this spectacular landmark silhouette, it’s built form and shape on the Thameside setting.

‘The cost of repairs will be confined solely to the end towers and chimneys (which will be kept and not demolished or replaced). This cost will be in the order of £25 million against the estimated cost of repairing the entire building which for previous schemes would have been in the order of £90 million.

‘The cost of the new park, water features and new elements is estimated at £18 million which is significantly different to the cost of new uses and development as proposed by the consented scheme which would have been in the order of £600 million.

‘The value of the park must also been considered in terms of the increase on surrounding residential property prices which one would expect to be at least 10 per cent higher. This is a very sensible alternative to providing lots of new internal uses at great cost to any developer which by some estimates could be over £300 million. A park would also dramatically accelerate the development programme – reducing interest rates, consultants’ fees and radically bringing forward sales income which could all add up to an extra £250 million.

‘The stunning art deco control rooms will be retained and celebrated in their existing positions without being meaninglessly and mindlessly subsumed and overwhelmed by shopping malls, or football terraces or along corridors off a conference centre. Their heroic position in these proposals will heighten their value – after all no-one suggests they could be control rooms again and so they should be, as it were, “objet trouvé”. To be kept as artefacts in a beautiful landscape setting would be a truly memorable and fitting way of celebrating this important part of our industrial heritage. In this way it would be similar to the great retained industrial landscape of Emscher Park in Germany.

‘This spectacle, this incredible monument, needs to be preserved as much as St Pancras or Stonehenge but it is the essence of the building form and architectural mass, not it’s filled commercial internal re-use that need to be preserved. That way we can retain for future generations the bold presence and memory of this great industrial giant.’

If approved, Farrells will forfeit the rights to the scheme which will ‘go with the land and whoever buys the site.’

Farrells nearby Embassy Gardens masterplan for the redevelopment of land surrounding Kieran Timberlake’s planned new US Embassy was approved today by local authority Wandsworth Council.

A planning application will be submitted within a month and could be determined over a three month period.

 

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