Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Battersea power stationary

Battersea chimneysHow current do blogs have to be?

It depends what they're about I suppose.

In a world as slow moving as that of the London Skyline (barring the Broadgate Tower, which is glazing over at a rate of knotts) I could be forgiven for not following things up immediately. Today's post will be about possibly the slowest advancing development saga in London. If you recognise the Towers to the left, you'll know I mean Battersea Power Station.

The photo to the left dates from sometime in the autumn. I visited the power station with Tom and Karen as they had an exhibition of Chinese art there (including piles of rotting apples, a video of thousands of laughing chinese men, and a pormographic slideshow which an upper middle class family let their 5-ish year old child watch).

Battersea Power Station PlansPart of the exhibition was a model of the planned Battersea developments. Karen Tom and myself all agree that they looked hideous. There's a real conflict around the power station and it's surroundings' redevelopment. No one wants to surround it with forgettable apartment blocks, as this is hardly befitting an iconic building. And yet, surrounding it with eyecatching developments is just garish. Like putting Bono in the same room as Fred Dibnah (You can buy a DVD of Fred's funeral here. You can't buy a DVD of Bono's though. He's not dead yet. But members of U2 are dying every day - please give kindly).

The Power station is a rare example of an old building on a monumental scale. I am generally in favour of putting big modern buildings around smaller old ones; they don't clash as they're not competing on the same level. A small building doesn't demand that you look at it awestruck, and a skyscraper doesn't demand that you look at the intricate stonework. At Battersea it's difficult to get the balance right. The power station is awe-inspiring, but also has the quaint atmosphere of older buildings - what do you put next to that.

I have an idea - how about a skyscraper?

I've been thinking about it, the length of this post, and the more I consider it the more it seems like a good idea. Smallish modern buildings will just look silly next to it. Something like the Shard of Glass wouldn't though. Putting a huge modern edifice there will perhaps concentrate visitors' eyes on the ancientness of the power station. And after all, the power station was once a n icon of modernity. Putting something similarly striking there would be wholly in keeping with the heritage of the site. Or maybe something a bit like the new Tate Modern extension. God knows what you'd put in it though. Some sort of people I suppose. Maybe freemasons.

Possibly not argued very convincingly, but picture the scene and I think you'll agree it's a good one. There will be puppies lolloping. Puppies!

Anyway, the reason for raking all this up now is that the This is Hertfordshire website of all places announced that Rafael Vinoly, of Walkie Talkie fame, will from now on be in charge of the redevelopment as the old plans have fallen through.

'His brief will include designing a completely new master plan for the site, effectively taking development there back to square one. The previous master plan took three years to create and was followed by a decade of inaction.'
So perhaps a huge modern tower isn't out of the question. Although, it has to be said, even here the Walkie Talkie would look like an over-sized shopping trolley wrapped in cling film.

The official website says 'This site is currently under construction', which is more than can be said for the real world site. Fingers crosse dsomething will happen soon though, or the power station itself may fall into such a bad state that it will be demolished entirely.
battersea warning sign

1 comment:

Kate said...

That photo of the start reminds me of Greek pillars. Looks lovely set against the blue sky with the green grass in the foreground.

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