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Big Builds: Battersea Power Station

Alice-India Garwood
by Alice-India Garwood on May 17, 2019

With over 6 million bricks used in its construction, Battersea Power Station is one of the largest brick buildings in the world. Positioned right on the Thames’ edge in central London, this London icon has been decommissioned since 1983.

"Over 6 million bricks were used in its construction."

The power station was opened in 1933. The project was led by engineer Dr. Leonard Pearce who was chief engineer of the London Power Company at the time.

The project was later joined by architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott to deal with the public facing elements of the project both literally and figuratively. He assisted in the exterior design. As the project was to be so large they needed to make sure the public were pleased with the design.

Big Build BAttersea5[Photo Credit: Flashbak]

Who’d want to live by a big red eyesore?

Luckily for the people of London then, and now, we have a beautiful art deco structure gracing the south bank of the Thames.

But why was it decommissioned at all?

Well, output was beginning to fall, and with it, a rising cost in terms of taking care of such a large and fairly high maintenance structure. There were a number of campaigns to save the station but ultimately in the early 1980s production ground to a halt.

Since its decommission the building has stood dormant. With plans being rejected due to their cost or their practicality for decades.

"In 1983 the power station closed its doors."

Big Builds Battersea[Photo Credit: Wikipedia]

Suggestions ranging from housing to theme parks have all passed through looking for planning permission but all of them were dropped. We’re a little bit disappointed about the theme park plans being scrapped… but we digress.

Finally a design by Rafael Vinoly has been accepted. Now, thanks to a £500m investment from a Malaysian company in 2012 work has begun on updating Battersea power station.

Construction began in 2013 with over 3000 workers being employed on the site.

Big Builds BAttersea 3[Photo Credit: New London Development]

Phase 1 has already been completed in 2017 with Battersea power station now being home to around 1000 residents.

The original art deco features have been maintained whilst simultaneously exploring the site to house offices, residential blocks, shops, cafes and restaurants.

It is expected that the project will not be complete until 2025, so we’ll have to wait a bit before we can see this London icon in all its glory.

"We’ll have to wait a bit before we can see this London icon in all its glory."

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Alice-India Garwood

Alice-India Garwood

Content Marketing Executive at Bobtrade. Interested in design, sustainability and the history of construction. I love all things indie and theatrical.