High note for revised designs following turbulent times
CABE (the commission for architecture and the built environment) has finally praised Rafael Viñoly’s designs for the massive redevelopment of the 38-acre Battersea Power Station site in south west London. Decommissioned in 1982 the power station has stood in ruins on the south bank of the Thames but will now be the centrepiece of the new development. The plans have seen drastic revisions since Viñoly was first appointed to the project with initial plans which included a 300 m glass chimney and eco-dome scrapped after Mayoral intervention.
The new designs revealed in June last year heavily feature green roofs across the development and produce public space encircling the power station, as well as substantial tower blocks. Five hundred new homes were added in the redesign to total 3,700, and 1.5 million sq ft of office floorspace, community facilities and 500,000 sqft of retail, restaurants, leisure space and a hotel are to be created.
"The Grade II* listed building has been made the clear focus of the site in the redevelopment, and after its renovation, it will include shops, offices and apartments," said CABE. "Converting the listed industrial shell of the power station has been a complex project, and CABE’s design review panel felt that an impressive amount has been achieved within the constraints of the building.
"The power station is being given a strong new setting, provided by a simple new riverside park and the oval form of landscape and buildings to the south."
CABE has reviewed the scheme six times overall but this most recent review has been the most positive. But there were further suggestions to be made.
"Inevitably, for a development of this scale and complexity, there are areas to be resolved," they added. "The massing of surrounding blocks needs to allow the power station to dominate in all views. Work is required to ensure acceptable sunlight and daylight penetration into some apartments at lower levels, and avoid overshadowing in the public realm."
But, they added: "CABE is supporting both the outline planning and listed building applications to the London Borough of Wandsworth."
While CABE support can be pivotal, the project still has many hurdles to jump. REO (a subsidiary of Treasury Holdings) who own the site were advised by auditors in October last year that they may not be able to sustain their debts of £1.621 billion in the current financial climate. While in a statement issued on 19 November REO advised their loan for Battersea remains stable, the strain on the company was evident upon the announcement that Rayford Homes Limited, another of their companies, went into receivership that same month. REO are currently in talks with Lloyds Bank over funding which they believe will be aided by 'the positive planning position and strong residual value of the site caused by the large increase in development density' of the new plans.
Niki May Young