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Keith Garner's comments

  • Stars among 80 firms vying for new Nine Elms bridge

    Keith Garner's comment 4 February, 2015 3:05 pm

    Unfortunately, the visual above shows that the new Nine Elms, courtesy of Wandsworth Council, the GLA and CABE is not going to be a place you would want to take a footbridge to. Other than the new US Embassy - which does have something about it – the new Nine Elms is a desultory and ugly mess, devoid of any organising idea or concept. Much to the discredit of all involved.

  • Stars among 80 firms vying for new Nine Elms bridge

    Keith Garner's comment 4 February, 2015 11:30 am

    Unfortunately, the visual above shows that the new Nine Elms, courtesy of Wandsworth Council, the GLA and CABE is not going to be a place you would want to take a footbridge to. Other than the new US Embassy - which does have something about it – the new Nine Elms is a desultory and ugly mess, devoid of any organising idea or concept. Much to the discredit of all involved.

  • BIG to make UK debut with new square at Battersea

    Keith Garner's comment 13 November, 2014 12:12 pm

    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”.


  • Gehry and Foster’s Battersea 'high street' approved

    Keith Garner's comment 17 October, 2014 5:56 pm

    Too bad. The harm that these new blocks will do to the setting of Battersea Power Station is clear from the images. It is not just the scale of the new blocks obscuring Battersea Power Station from most viewpoints, but the way that their aggressive architecture overpowers its serene verticality. And for what? More shops and flats and a derisory “community hub”. This scheme is not worth having. Far better to mothball Battersea Power Station for 25 years and just enjoy it as a landmark. Hopefully a future generation will have a better idea of what to do. I’m sure the HLF would oblige with the funding. If only we had a national heritage protection agency of some kind that could step in to protect important listed buildings from crass and insensitive treatment like this. We could call it English Heritage!

  • Revealed: first image of Battersea Power Station chimney disassembly

    Keith Garner's comment 20 August, 2014 11:35 am

    Philip Gullet of Battersea Power Station development Company refers to “… years of research and independent reports” that support demolition and rebuilding of the chimneys. This is strange as the only reports that support the demolition option those commissioned and paid for by the previous owners Parkview International and Treasury Holdings, uncritically accepted by English Heritage and Wandsworth Council. The only independent report into this issue was commissioned by the Twentieth Century Society and others in 2005 which said that the case for demolition was not proven and that repair appeared to be a viable option. That report can be seen here: http://www.batterseapowerstation.org.uk/press/press_release_26.09.05.html.

    Legacy programme! Don’t they need to actually build something before they can have a legacy?

    Keith Garner
    keithwgarner@btinternet.com

  • Revealed: first image of Battersea Power Station chimney disassembly

    Keith Garner's comment 20 August, 2014 9:51 am

    Philip Gullet of Battersea Power Station development Company refers to “… years of research and independent reports” that support demolition and rebuilding of the chimneys. This is strange as the only reports that support the demolition option those commissioned and paid for by the previous owners Parkview International and Treasury Holdings, uncritically accepted by English Heritage and Wandsworth Council. The only independent report into this issue was commissioned by the Twentieth Century Society and others in 2005 which said that the case for demolition was not proven and that repair appeared to be a viable option. That report can be seen here: http://www.batterseapowerstation.org.uk/press/press_release_26.09.05.html.

    Legacy programme! Don’t they need to actually build something before they can have a legacy?

    Keith Garner
    keithwgarner@btinternet.com

  • Gehry and Foster snap up Battersea Power Station jobs

    Keith Garner's comment 28 October, 2013 3:06 pm

    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/#

  • Gehry and Foster snap up Battersea Power Station jobs

    Keith Garner's comment 28 October, 2013 12:50 pm

    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/#

  • Gehry and Foster snap up Battersea Power Station jobs

    Keith Garner's comment 26 October, 2013 6:17 pm

    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.

  • Wilkinson Eyre and Purcell to restore Grade II* Battersea Power Station

    Keith Garner's comment 3 June, 2013 10:12 pm

    The report I refer to above is in fact here:

    http://www.batterseapowerstation.org.uk/press/chimneys_report_23.09.05.pdf

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