Battersea Power Station is one of London’s most iconic landmarks and an unforgettable presence on the capital’s skyline. The building is a twentieth-century feat of architecture and engineering and a favourite icon of popular culture – it featured in the 2012 Olympic closing ceremony and was visited by over 38,000 people as part of London’s Open House weekend in September 2013.
The complex was the collaboration between renowned London architects J. Theo Halliday and Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, the latter also being the creator of the city’s iconic red telephone boxes.
Of particular note are Halliday’s overall “four square” arrangement and Scott’s “streamlining” of the exterior and the stepped chimney pedestals. The building’s sleek exterior design, Art Deco interiors, and the engineering achievements of its turbine and heating systems are a testament to its extraordinary significance.
A ten-year relationship
Battersea Power Station was first included on the Watch in 2004. Ten years on, it was still a building at risk. No substantive repair works had been carried out since 1983, and in 2007 the power station was upgraded to Grade II* status on account of its powerful architectural and historic significance an.d the degree of loss the building has suffered.
Located within a desirable location, the building and its surroundings faced redevelopment with a shops planned for its lower floors and offices and residential units housed above the power station. Advocates were concerned that the plans did not adequately protect the iconic chimneys and the important views of the power station’s silhouette
In 2005 the reinforced concrete chimneys were declared to be beyond repair, despite an engineering report funded by the Battersea Power Station Company and WMF Britain which found no evidence that the chimneys had to be demolished. The dismantling of the historic chimneys began in August 2014, and their rebuilding started in May 2015.
Since The Watch
WMF has kept the spotlight on current redevelopment plans for the power station site and the impact existing proposals will have on the future of this heritage asset. The rebuilding of Battersea’s iconic chimneys has been the focus of much media attention. WMF’s renewed focus on the site supports the campaign to ensure that these icons are rebuilt and the famous South London skyline is reinstated as soon as possible.
In 2014, American Express supported the creation of a documentary film in collaboration with Spectacle Productions and the Battersea Power Station Community Group to further the awareness of Battersea Power Station and its preservation challenges. Battersea Power Station: Selling an Icon details the building’s historic and cultural significance, its present-day part in one of the largest redevelopment projects in London, and the controversial debate that has arisen around the site’s future. To celebrate the release of the documentary, an event was held in October 2015 to launch the film and bring together the community of supporters who are vested in securing the site’s future.
Watch Day was celebrated in September 2014 with an architectural walking tour of sites around the complex, led by knowledgeable guides. Discussion of waterfront issues, such as riverside development, culminated in a talk on the challenges facing Battersea Power Station.