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BIG to make UK debut with new square at Battersea

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World-famous Danish practice BIG is finally set to make its UK debut after winning a contest to design a key new square at Battersea Power Station

While no formal announcement has been made, it is understood the New York and Copenhagen-based practice of Danish architect Bjarke Ingels has been selected from an international shortlist to draw up plans for the public realm south of the Grade II*-listed icon.

The so-called Malaysia Square scheme will sit between phases one, two and three of the south-west London site’s £8 billion redevelopment.

It will link Frank Gehry and Foster + Partners’ proposed ‘high street’ with the revamped power station – being masterminded by Wilkinson Eyre – and Ian Simpson and dRMM’s phase one housing scheme.

The project was described by one source as among the most important schemes within Rafael Viñoly’s masterplan for the site, and a ‘front-door’ to the development.

BIG and Battersea Power Station Development – the Malaysian-backed company overseeing the scheme – both refused to comment.

Despite worldwide success, BIG has so far been unable to get a foothold in the UK. In April this year, the practice narrowly missed out in the competition to redevelop the grounds around London’s Natural History Museum, won by Niall McLaughlin.

Peter Murray of New London Architecture said: ‘[BIG’s] lively reputation is not misplaced; they bring innovative and specific thinking to each project.

‘This [appointment] says a lot about the ambition of the owners of Battersea Power Station. Who can complain about patrons like this who actively seek out the best architects from around the world?’

Battersea aerial - Foster and Gehry

Battersea aerial - Foster and Gehry

Meanwhile it is understood that BIG has thrown its hat into the ring for the highly-prized ‘Olympicopolis’ job – a new educational and cultural quarter on London’s Olympic Park.

The practice is believed to have submitted a bid with Hawkins\Brown, Haptic, Cobe and Okra. A team including AHR, Schmidt Hammer Lassen, Jamie Fobert, Ramboll, Atelier Dreistel, Steensen Varming, Theatre Projects and RLB has also entered the contest.

The AJ has also learned of another bid led by Atkins with Burwell Deakins, C.F. Møller, Farrell, Nord, Stitch and Wayne Hemingway.

Last month the AJ reported that a gaggle of high-profile teams had already decided to pitch for the multimillion project which will house outposts for the V&A, Sadler’s Wells, UCL and the University of Arts London on the former 2012 park site.

Early submissions included a collaboration between Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Amanda Levete and David Adjaye and a joint bid by AECOM, Heatherwick Studios, Alison Brooks Architects, Haworth Tompkins, Stanton Williams, Asif Khan and Carmody Groarke.


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Readers' comments (1)

  • Peter Murray asks: “Who can complain about patrons like this, who actively seek out the best architects from around the world?” Well I can for one. The Malaysian consortium that currently owns Battersea Power Station includes a company called Sime Darby. This company is involved in the production of palm oil and has been criticised in two reports by Friends of the Earth for its activities in Malaysia and in Liberia relating to deforestation and displacement of indigenous peoples.

    It has to be asked what would a company with (shall we say) a questionable environmental and humanitarian record really care about a listed building in London? Not much to judge by what is going on down there. The chimneys are currently being demolished on the flimsiest of evidence. (Strange that the south west chimney which is apparently “beyond repair” is taking so long to pull down.) The adjacent listed pumping station c1840 is being demolished as I type.

    And what do get in return for all this destruction? Battersea Power Station sensitively repaired and given an appropriate new lease of life? Errr…. No. It will become a shopping centre with offices and luxury flats above. These last will require rows and rows of windows punched in Scott’s spare brick architecture and superfluous rooftop pavilions spoiling its distinctive silhouette. Not that you will be able to see the building of course, as it disappears behind blocks of flats of truly staggering vulgarity.

    But that’s must me. Lots of big architectural firms are making money out of it, which is the main thing. I suppose it is only a matter of time before the consortium is named “Client of the Year”.

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