London’s Battersea power station is a historic landmark that began its operation in 1933, generating power until the 1980s. Years after it was decommissioned, renovation got underway in 2013 to bring new life to the building. The project was headed by the UK architecture firm Wilkinson Eyre with Malaysian funding, thus making it an international undertaking. Nonetheless, the focus of the project was to create a revitalised neighbourhood in the UK with emphasis on mixed-use structures.
Re-Use of old industrial buildings
In many similar projects where old industrial buildings have been re-used, the resulting infrastructure has been museums. With the Battersea Power Station project, the architecture firm pushed the possibilities to create something that has a different purpose yet retaining the character and life of the old structure. Renovating old industrial buildings has always been challenging. Many firms consider this undertaking expensive and as a result, many of them disappear.
Creating a mixed-use development is not as simple as one may think. It is a huge undertaking and the Battersea project is a true example of this scheme. To illustrate further, the development boasts a combination of office space, retail space, residential hall, a concert hall, event and exhibition space, and a cinema. The aim of the project was to make the layout open to the public with an adjacent park by the river.
World Architecture Festival
This project, which was focused on creating the new while retaining the old received the “commercial mixed-use-future projects” award at the 2017 World Architecture Festival. The architecture firm acknowledged the challenge of keeping the heritage of the building while at the same time focusing on developing new structures that will always connect with the scale of the building.
The architecture firm focused on retaining some key elements of the heritage of the building. Some examples include retaining the look of old decaying walls and using organic elements such as steel, concrete, and glass. They wanted all the new developments to look new but at the same time still stay true to the design aesthetic. This kind of innovation in the field of architecture is noteworthy and often eligible for R&D tax credits for architects.
There was no shortage of challenges encountered while the project was undertaken. Soon enough the architecture firm discovered that the condition of the power station was much worse than initially anticipated. They had to make instantaneous adjustments and changes to their plans in order to accommodate the issues they discovered. But these challenges added to the value of the project. Having been able to overcome them, the firm has truly embodied innovation in architecture. The Battersea Power Station will be known as another worthy destination in the landscape of London.