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Gehry and Foster snap up Battersea Power Station jobs

Frank Gehry and Norman Foster have been chosen to design the latest phase of Battersea Power Station’s £8billion overhaul

The high-profile architects are the latest to be appointed to work up detailed designs for Rafael Viñoly’s 3,400-home masterplan for the ageing south London landmark.

The 800-flat first phase designed by dRMM and Ian Simpson started on site this summer and Wilkinson Eyre and Purcell were selected to refurbish iconic Grade II*-listed structure in May.

Gehry and Foster have been chosen to design the project’s residential ‘High Street’ comprising two buildings which form the southern approach to Giles Gilbert Scott’s brick masterpiece from the planned Northern Line Extension.

Foster – whose studio has been based at nearby Ransome’s Dock in Battersea for the past 25 years – will design the High Street’s west building. Along with dRMM and Ian Simpson’s first phase, the structure will be one of the 15 hectare development’s most visible elements from passing commuter trains.

Meanwhile Gehry – who has yet to complete a permanent building in London – has been chosen to work up designs for the High Street’s east building. The development will feature a ‘strikingly sculptural form’ at its centre, reported The Financial Times, however images have yet to be revealed.

Both structures will be mostly residential and together feature 1,200 residential units, a 200 room hotel, 32,500m² of retail, a 1,400m² library and additional leisure space.

Gehry said: ‘Our goal is to help create a neighbourhood and a place for people to live that respects the iconic Battersea Power Station while connecting it into the broader fabric of the city.  We hope to create a design that is uniquely London, that respects and celebrates the historical vernacular of the city.’

Foster + Partners’ design director Grant Brooker said: ‘We moved our own office to Wandsworth almost twenty five years ago – the Borough is very important to us, so we were absolutely delighted to be chosen to be part of this inspiring regeneration project for the Battersea Power Station redevelopment.’

Rob Tincknell, Battersea Power Station Development Company chief executive, added: ‘We are thrilled to have two such well regarded architectural practices join the team and for Battersea Power Station to be the home to Gehry’s first building in London. 

‘This clearly demonstrates both the quality and the design aspirations which our shareholders are determined to achieve, as well as the extraordinary design solutions which the site deserves.’

Readers' comments (3)

  • You have hit the nail on the head, Merlin. New buildings on the Battersea Power Station site would certainly be highly visible “… from passing commuter trains”. The one thing you won’t see of course will be Battersea Power Station itself, which would be obscured by thousands of new flats in blocks up to 18 storeys high, to be built as part of the Viñoly masterplan.

    This would be a very great shame given the evident pleasure that commuters and visitors to London derive from seeing Battersea Power Station from the train: certainly to judge by the number of people who take photographs as they go by and then post them on Twitter and Instagram.

    The truth is that the Viñoly masterplan is fatally flawed. This is because the quantum of development it foresees will destroy Battersea Power Station’s significance as an urban landmark. It really doesn’t matter how distinguished the architects are who design individual buildings. No good will happen at Battersea until the masterplan itself is ditched.

    Indeed, rather than allowing new commercial buildings to proceed before Battersea Power Station is repaired, nothing should happen on the site until the future of the Grade II* listed building is itself secured. In that regard, Foster & Gehry would be better employed working alongside Wilkinson Eyre on Battersea Power Station itself, rather than in designing new buildings adjacent.

    (Foster & Partners has done interesting work on industrial buildings in the past: for example the conversion of the former power house at Zollverein in Essen in to the “Red Dot” Design Museum.)

    Part of the reason why the current scheme for Battersea Power Station is so wildly off beam is that its underlying premise is to fund the repairs to the listed building from the proceeds of surrounding commercial development. But if the resulting over-scaled buildings destroy the significance of Battersea Power Station as a urban landmark - as they surely will - then what’s the point?

    It would be far better to transfer ownership of Battersea Power Station to a public interest trust and to repair the building with funds from the Lottery. Rob Tincknell should agree to this: it relieves the consortium of the responsibility of looking after the listed building - something they are plainly not interested in - and lets them get on with the job of making a return for their investors.

    The consortium would develop the surrounding site (in a manner that respects the monumentality of the listed building and preserves key views e.g. from the railway viaduct) and would have a lease from the trust for use of the unlisted parts of Battersea Power Station itself, i.e. most of it. As a quid pro quo for the use of Lottery money, the public would have free access to the listed interiors which could be used for any number of educationally or culturally uplifting pursuits.

    This seems like the basis of an equitable settlement to me. The problem is finding an organisation to take it forward. If only we had a national heritage protection agency of some kind in this country, like they have in France and Germany, that would put this plan into effect. An organisation advising the government on the protection of important London landmarks with appropriate legal powers. We could call it “English Heritage” or something.

    Incidentally, the AJ hasn’t – as far as I am aware – reported the news that the World Monuments Fund had just added Battersea Power Station to its list of world heritage in danger for 2014. This is the second time Battersea Power Station has been added to the list – the first was in 2004 - and reflects the WMF’s ongoing concerns about the situation at Battersea and the motivations of the current owners.

    Yours,

    Keith Garner
    Keithwgarner@btinternet.com
    020 7585 0421

    PS: I made a similar point arguing for trust ownership for Battersea Power Station in a letter to the AJ in October 2003, the last time the building was put on the World Monuments Fund’s watch list.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • PPS: By way of illustration of the point about being able to see Battersea Power Station from the passing train, see this picture posted on Instagram earlier today of Battersea Power Station under stormy skies of the "St Jude" storm: http://instagram.com/p/gAi3lhCed9/#

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • PPS: By way of illustration of the point about being able to see Battersea Power Station from the passing train, see this picture posted on Instagram earlier today of Battersea Power Station under stormy skies of the "St Jude" storm: http://instagram.com/p/gAi3lhCed9/#

    Unsuitable or offensive?

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