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Viñoly: 'I thought Battersea was going to be a piece of cake'

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Rare and candid insights given by Rafael Viñoly and Ken Shuttleworth into key projects at the World Architecture Festival London

Rafael Viñoly told a session during the event’s third day he initially thought his commission to masterplan the mixed-use redevelopment of Battersea Power Station would be much more straightforward than it turned out to be.

‘I always thought that [Battersea] was going to be a piece of cake, and then I realised that it was a gigantic cul-de-sac, with very little access,’ he said.

‘The site is extremely difficult to access from the main arteries. What we have is a series of envelopes to open it up.’

Speaking at the inaugural WAF London event on Friday (June 26), Viñoly said the driving force for the Battersea masterplan had been ensuring that a scheme with ‘enough of a critical mass to justify the business proposal’ was approved.

Meanwhile, in a session on Make Architects’ 5 Broadgate building in the City of London, practice founder Ken Shuttleworth said the scheme for site owner British Land and pre-let tenant UBS had presented some unique opportunities.

‘There were no estate agents involved, so we didn’t get that pressured into having to do a formulaic building,’ he said of the scheme, which is scheduled to open next year.

Shuttleworth said that with more than 700,000 ft2 of space the stainless-steel clad structure, was Make’s biggest project to date, and that it’s design had been inspired by motorbike engine castings.

Earlier in the day Populous founder Rod Sheard shared his thoughts on stadium design - with particular reference to the Olympic Stadium.

In a discussion on the merits of artist Anish Kapoor’s Orbit structure in the Olympic Park, Sheard said the original design for the twisted tower had been ‘stunning’ in comparison with what was eventually built.

‘It was just extraordinary, but the quantity surveyors got hold of it…’, he said.

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Readers' comments (3)

  • lol- that's 'Battenburg', Raf...

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  • When 5 Broadgate is 'delivered' next year it'll be interesting to see what impact this megastructure has on its surrounds.

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  • I wonder whether aluminium cladding, even more like a motorbike engine castng, would have been even more expensive that stainless steel ?

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