The New Battersea Is Part-Gehry, Part-Foster, All Ripply
Monday, April 7, 2014
In what's gearing up to be a starchitecture bonanza for the ages—or the perfect setup for a design-focused bromantic comedy—contemporary building wizards Frank Gehry and Norman Foster were tapped last fall to redevelop London's Battersea Power Station, the now defunct art deco coal fire plant that graces the cover of Pink Floyd's 1977 album Animals. Originally designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, the power station is the largest brick building in Europe, and has seen a number of failed proposals for redevelopment since it closed in 1983, including a stadium, a theme park, and a public garden. Foster and Gehry just released their plan for the site, and the question on everyone's mind is pastry-shaped spaceship or flamboyant scrum of disarticulated blocks?
The current plan has the area around the Battersea turned into a neighborhood of 1300 condos and apartments. A Gehry-designed huddle of residential buildings titled Prospect Place and equipped with his signature rippling facades will rise on the west side of a pedestrian thoroughfare known as the Electric Boulevard, while Foster will have his imprint on a large apartment complex called the Skyline on the other side of the street. As Gehry explains, their goal is to "to create a neighborhood that connects into the historic fabric of the city of London, but one that has its own identity and integrity," an assemblage of "humanistic environments that feel good to live in and visit."