Viñoly Unveils Renovation of London’s Battersea Power Station

Battersea Power Station

[image via BD Online]

This week saw Rafael Viñoly debut his proposed renovation of London’s much-loved Battersea Power Station. The design includes a massive tower and bizarre glassed-in micro-city / biodome that bears little to no relationship with the existing power plant and its context. Predictably, reviews have not been kind — the word “menace” has been thrown around a lot and RIBA chair Andrew Hanson has said “it’s completely overscaled and is destroying my memory of that part of London.” Wow. How bad can design be? So bad that it actually destroys memory. So bad that it makes architects forget that something could ever be good. The only people who don’t seem to be upset are those convinced it will never get built. “I might muster the energy to get offended by the project if I thought that there was even the remotest chance of it being built,” says BD’s architecture critic, Ellis Woodman, with typical British aplomb. The proposoal is ugly, yes. Perhaps even menacing. It does, however include one compelling feature: converting the original station into an actual functioning power plant.

Battersea Power Station

[image via BD Online]

Under Viñoly’s proposal, the defunct power station will once again produce power. Only instead of production electricity via coal-fired furnaces, the updated station will use “biofuels, waste, and other renewable energy sources.” Even better? two of the existing chimneys will be used as flues for the new energy facility. I love the idea of restoring a building to its original function, albeit with a contemporary update. It’s like holding a NASCAR race on some ancient hippodrome or retrofitting dutch windmills with high efficiency turbines.

battersea Power Station

[image via BD Online]

I was also surprised to see the interior of the power station, not knowing that such a large part of it was really just a shell. With all the scaffolding on the inside, it gave the impression that the power station was part of a large stage set for the Battersea Area.

&#183 Battersea Power Station redevelopment [BD]
&#183 Viñoly Battersea plan ‘a menace’ [BD]
&#183 Viñoly’s design for London’s iconic Battersea Power Station [World Arch News]

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