Gehry: 'I want to work with a local firm on Battersea'
Frank Gehry is planning to find a British architect to help deliver his landmark scheme for Battersea Power station, he has revealed
Speaking at the launch of plans for the third phase of the 3,400-home Raphael Vinoly-designed masterplan for regenerating Gilbert Scott’s power station and the land around it, the Canadian signature architect said he would not open a London office to work on the scheme – his first permanent development in England.
Instead, he vowed to work in partnership with a ‘local firm’, which is yet to be selected, on his portion of the development.
Phase three, by Gehry and Foster & Partners, includes a major new high street linking the development with the Northern Line extension station to the south of the riverside site.
More than 1,300 homes will be built on either side of the snaking 250m-long high street in the two distinctive styles of Foster and Gehry.
The 85-year-old Canadian will design five blocks of apartments, including a titanium-clad building called The Flower.
Gehry, who is based in Los Angeles, told AJ: ‘I’ve never opened a branch office in my life… we will work with a local firm which has not been selected yet.’
The architect said he was not looking to work more in the UK but was keen to take the right opportunities for the right clients in this country.
‘I know [developer] Stuart Lipton and we tried to work together a long time ago on St Pancras way way back when David Chipperfield was a tiny mite. I love London, there’s no question it’s one of the most vibrant places in the world… and I have a lot of friends here.
‘You will have to ask London why they don’t call me more often.’
Gehry also defended the contribution that the scheme makes to London after it emerged that less than 10 per cent of the homes in the third phase of the scheme will be affordable.
Overall, just 15 per cent of the 3,400 homes in the masterplan will be affordable with most delivered in the later stages – a state-of-affairs the developer argues is necessary to pay for expensive repairs to the power station and make a £200m contribution to the Northern Line extension.
Gehry said: ‘As an architect… I’ve always felt a responsibility to social issues. I’m not going to give you a litany of my philanthropic efforts to date but I’ve been involved in a lot of [charitable] projects such as working in New Orleans with Brad Pitt and with an education project in the US we’re launching right now.
‘I probably wouldn’t be involved [at Battersea] unless I felt these issues were adequately addressed.’