Battersea Power Station
Battersea Power Station and its chimneys have been an iconic part of the London skyline since the time of their construction between 1929 and 1955. The complex exhibits the important collaboration between the architects J Theo Halliday and Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, including Halliday’s overall “four square” arrangement and Scott’s “streamlining” of the exterior and the stepped chimney pedestals. The station has become as synonymous with London as the red telephone boxes Scott also created. Since 1983, Battersea Power Station has been closed to the public, marking a thirty-year period of abandonment and lack of appropriate maintenance. After being first listed on the Watch in 2004, the Power Station’s impending demolition was averted. Ten years later, its’ future is once again in question. Located on prime real estate, the site is slated for imminent redevelopment. There is concern that current plans do not adequately protect the iconic chimneys and the important viewsheds of the power station’s silhouette.
How We Helped
Battersea Power Station was one of nine recipients of a grant from American Express for sites on the 2014 Watch, to support awareness-raising public programs. The 2014 Watch Day was celebrated 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, held outside of the main gates. To further the awareness of Battersea Power Station and its preservation challenges, a documentary film is being produced in collaboration with Spectacle Productions. It 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, a Watch Day event will be held to launch the film and bring together the community of supporters who are vested in securing the site’s future.
Why It Matters
Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s graceful Battersea Power Station defines the river Thames just west of the Houses of Parliament in London. The buildings’ streamlined exterior design and Art Deco interiors, and the engineering achievements of its turbine and heating systems, are a testament to the structure’s extraordinary significance. It is a historic fixture for Londoners and visitors to the city alike, and its popularity and iconic status has been cemented in pop culture through appearances in films, TV, album covers, advertising, and other media. Particular fame comes from its appearance on the cover of Pink Floyd’s 1977 album "Animals." The building was featured as an “icon” of London in the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics, and repeatedly tops lists of favorite buildings in polls of both the public and professionals. The local community is engaged and vested in the future of their swathe of London, and the international community recognizes the cultural significance of this twentieth-century icon.