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Competition: Battersea Power Station social welfare facility

Battersea aerial - Foster and Gehry
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ScottWhitbyStudio has launched a student contest for a new social welfare facility at Battersea Power Station in south-west London

The competition is open to local architecture students and graduates from 2015 and after, and will select three people to design a new staff room for builders working on the £9 billion regeneration of the Grade II*-listed icon.

The project – backed by the Battersea Power Station Development Company and contractor Sir Robert McAlpine – will deliver an innovative welfare space for the 2,200 operatives working on the mega-project’s third phase which features buildings by Foster + Partners and Gehry Partners.

Three winners will receive a 12-week paid placement to develop their scheme, working with ScottWhitbyStudio, from July to September this year.

‘Site Welfare in the UK has come a long way in the past decade, previously having been dominated by sheds, Portakabins and bacon baps,’ says the competition brief.

‘Enlightened construction companies now treat their site operatives to healthy and nutritious food, in robust but well-designed environments. Sir Robert McAlpine has led the field and has created a number of award-winning site welfare facilities for its construction sites over the last five years.

‘For this commission, we are looking to build on these strong conditions and work with three talented locally based designers/architects to create a welfare space that exceeds both the operative and public expectations. The three winning applications will be offered a 12-week paid experience to design, detail and produce tender information for the facility that will house 2,200 people.’

Battersea Power Station, designed by Theo Halliday and Giles Gilbert Scott, was decommissioned in 1983 and lay derelict for decades due to a succession of stalled regeneration schemes. The site is now undergoing a £9 billion regeneration, masterplanned by Rafael Viñoly Architects.

The project’s 800-unit residential first phase by SimpsonHaugh and dRMM has already completed and work is underway on the second phase restoration of the power station itself – designed by Wilkinson Eyre and Purcell – and the third phase by Fosters and Gehry Partners.

The latest competition, which is being held as part of the London Festival of Architecture, aims to deliver a ‘best in class’ welfare facility where employees can rest, relax and prepare for work on the waterfront site.

The project is part of Phase 3A of the development, which will deliver a new ‘Electric Boulevard’ pedestrian route linking the power station to a new Northern Line station.

A total of 538 apartments, a 167-room boutique hotel, retail spaces, restaurants and leisure facilities are planned as part of the wider Phase 3 development.

Each winner must be able to provide a postal address in either of the London boroughs of Wandsworth or Lambeth on the first day of their employment and will receive an approximate £23,000 pro rata salary based on £105 per day.

The deadline for applications has been extended to 12noon on 21 June.

How to apply

Visit the competition website for more information 



Alison Cox, preconstruction director at Sir Robert McAlpine

Alison Cox

Alison Cox

Alison Cox

Why are you holding a student competition for a new social welfare facility on the Battersea Power Station development site?

This competition (open to recent graduates as well as students) will allow Battersea Power Station Development Company (BPSDC) and Sir Robert McAlpine (SRM) to engage with talented local people – and those who may be attracted to move here – and at the same time provides a truly innovative workplace for those who will be constructing the Foster+Partners and Gehry Partners-designed buildings.

SRM has previously worked very successfully with students from the University of East London and Central St Martins to produce similar facilities on previous projects. We are looking forward to receiving a wide range of imaginative responses to our brief from a diverse array of talented designers. We want to put together a group of three talented and socially motivated designers to create a welfare space that exceeds both our – and most importantly our employees’ – expectations.

What is your vision for the new staff facility?

The brief that BPSDC and SRM will set will be incredibly challenging. The welfare site will be a temporary facility located within the footprint of one of the planned buildings, and will be over 2,000m2 in size in this space, we will aim to create a class-leading facility that will provide 2,000 operatives with an experience that is genuinely different to what they expect from a site welfare facility. Given the multiple construction sites in the Nine Elms area, there is fierce competition for the best workers. First-class welfare facilities will go some way towards attracting the best possible workforce – as well as providing community to those operatives working away from home.

By treating workers with the utmost respect and providing them with a novel, caring and nurturing environment, Battersea Power Station intends to instil a sense of pride and respect in the workforce. That will encourage the welfare users to take ownership of their work out on-site, which will in turn drive the quality of the final build.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

The competition will be an exciting vehicle for promoting new architectural talent and will also allow students and graduates the opportunity to contribute to London’s newest neighbourhood: Nine Elms. As the timeframes involved are short, the winners will gain real work experience, get the chance to see their design constructed and also receive invaluable feedback from the end user. Local firm Foster + Partners will provide mentoring to the students, as will Adamson Associates and ScottWhitbyStudio. The three practices will provide daily support and advice along with our own Battersea-based project team. The winning team will be given its own office space on-site. After this project’s successful completion, we hope that they will go on to work for some of the great architectural studios in London – or even set up on their own.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

I think there could be lots… We are now looking forward to working with our third set of emerging designers/architects, and I’m sure that there will further opportunities for students or recent graduates to contribute to new welfare designs for future Sir Robert McAlpine projects around the capital. Well-designed and robust welfare facilities are here to stay, and enlightened constructors like Sir Robert McAlpine will continue to strive to provide our operatives with unique welfare environments.

Are there any other social welfare facility projects you have been impressed by?

The Battersea Power Station Phase 3A welfare project is the third in a series of ground-breaking welfare design projects undertaken by Sir Robert McAlpine. The first two were in the City of London and involved students from the University of East London and Central Saint Martins. The commissions at 1 Finsbury Avenue and Bloomberg’s new London headquarters were notable for their fresh take on welfare, and received overwhelmingly positive feedback from their users. The Finsbury Avenue design made excellent use of pre-existing materials thanks to its repurposing of old doors used in the building’s original fit-out. Commissions such as these are characteristic of the company’s innovative take on worker and community engagement.

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