Friday, 31 May 2013

Battersea madness




I have been to the new Battersea site to see much of the development going on there. It is good that finally the Malaysian investors have taken on the site and the team that the previous Irish investors had to now develop the site. Such a prime space has been wasted all these years and now there will be something done with it that is useful.

Even better it is lots and lots of small flats which is all people can afford these days in London.

No madness here you say? Well I see two big pieces. Firstly the old power station is a monstrosity and it would have been much better to knock the thing down, given it is very polluted and not that sound. But not only have the council insisted on keeping the old building, but also two useless cranes in the Thames which are to be restored.

of course, some will argue the power station is a nice old building, largest brick structure in the world etc. I say so what.

But the really stupid thing is the towers. These are made of a non reinforced concrete which is now deteriorating. Every now and again a big piece will fall off. This won't do when the sight is full of busy foreign students enjoying their new flats. So instead the Battersea owners are going to take them down and replace them with plastic ones.

No this is mad, they serve no purpose and are very expensive, plastic is hardly the most aesthetic product and in this case there is just no need. It's a mystery to me as to why this is necessary as part of the grade one listing.

24 comments:

assurance info said...

great article """"""


I have been to the new Battersea site to see much of the development going on there. It is good that finally the Malaysian investors have taken on the site and the team that the previous Irish investors had to now develop the site. Such a prime space has been wasted all these years and now there will be something done with it that is useful.

Even better it is lots and lots of small flats which is all people can afford these days in London.

No madness here you say? Well I see two big pieces. Firstly the old power station is a monstrosity and it would have been much better to knock the thing down, given it is very polluted and not that sound. But not only have the council insisted on keeping the old building, but also two useless cranes in the Thames which are to be restored.""""

Blue Eyes said...

Yep. The thing is that the building is pretty iconic. And pretty. But useless. It's a nice summation of Britain's planning system. I'm for keeping really old stuff and unique stuff if possible. But there is plenty of 30s architecture. Where else in the world would the system protect a bloomin' power station??!

I'm so glad the development is getting there. I live not far away and often run past it when it was empty. Now with the power station and the embassy development that whole stretch is humming with activity.

I think they should have taken the opportunity to get rid of the concrete factory as well and open up the whole river front, but I guess it was too expensive to persuade the factory to move!

I have moaned on my own blog before about the NIMBYs in my area who are against the extension of the tube. It seems to me that they worry about their little Zone 1 Georgian "village" being changed somehow. Luckily it looks like the Mayor and DfT are having none of their complaints.

Anonymous said...

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BrianSJ said...

Do they have to add a flying pig as part of the authenticity?

gsd said...

Up until a couple of years ago I would have agreed totally. Then I read a really interesting article (with lots of evocative photos) about the demise of Odeon cinemas, which were all "one-design" Art Deco buildings. Apparently planners & people of the late 40s-60s wanted to get rid of anything that reminded them of the pre-ww2 hope & dreams of the future. AD buildings fitted the bill really well, so consequently loads were bulldozed.

Anyhow, the article made me appreciate what we've lost - most were replaced by low-rise concrete-slab constructions which looked bloody awful then and haven't stood the test of time at all well. So I'm coming down on the "Its history-lets keep it" side of the fence.

As for putting up plastic chimneys (I'm really surprised that's allowed under GradeII* rules), perhaps they can turn it into a positive & put hidden radio/phone broadcast masts inside!

Roger said...

A clue to getting rid of this building was outlined in Weekend FT last week. Essentially get the go-ahead to take down chimneys and bad brickwork then once down to bust the company and leave an ugly pile for 10 years and a couple of parliaments. After which time - and a bit more austerity - any sort of concrete/glass monstrosity will seem a boon. Apparently this game has been played before.....

Budgie said...

As has been said, Battersea power station is iconic. That is why it is being kept (or at least the appearance of it). And a good thing too.

Even though concrete and glass (actually steel and glass), modern architecture is also iconic (not all of course). Don't tell the modern architects but they seem to have forgotten their nihilism.

On the other hand the "architecture" of the 1960s and 1970s was atrocious - full of self-hate, cheap materials and poor construction. Nothing worth saving, and a lot of it is being demolished because it simply never did its job. It was part of the socialist dream thankfully overturned by Margaret Thatcher.

Graeme said...

the trouble is that the powers-that-be have let it decay so badly. It was a great example of art deco industrial design. Now it is simpoly dangerous. we have a few existing art deco buildings in Bloomsbury and Mayfair and along the A40...although they shamefully demolished the Firstone building. Battersea should be allowed to die, sadly but gracefully. Those chimneys could have been a great statement 30 years ago if rescued at that point.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Of course we could have had the whole site razed, decontaminated and rebuilt twenty or thirty years ago if it had been subject to some form of Land Value Tax (call it business rates if you like) instead of allowing the original Chinese purchasers to waltz off with a totally unearned capital gain of £400 million.

And the LVT (call it Domestic Rates, if you will) levied on the new homes would have

a) depressed the price payable by people who actually want to live there (it costs them nothing, because £1 LVT is £15 off the purchase price, so what you pay in LVT you save in mortgage repayments).

b) Been a great source of funding for the new Tube stations and bus services and so on, so the taxpayer generally is not asked to chip in to subsidise the capital gains made by the site's owner.

andrew said...

Too much sun yesterday.

Looking at the title I thought it was going to be a piece about the EU fisheries policies and our fish and chips shops.

It would be much more fun if they could put a lift up to a bar at the top of one of the towers, a rope bridge across to the other and a helter-skelter back down.

Blue Eyes said...

MW, the tube extension *is* being financed by land taxation!

Anonymous said...

Whats wrong with using the site as, you know, a power station?

Agence communication said...

well said "" No madness here you say? Well I see two big pieces. Firstly the old power station is a monstrosity and it would have been much better to knock the thing down, given it is very polluted and not that sound. But not only have the council insisted on keeping the old building, but also two useless cranes in the Thames which are to be restored.

of course, some will argue the power station is a nice old building, largest brick structure in the world etc. I say so what.
""

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