Friday, 8 January 2010

Green Power to light up the South Bank...?

There are a few bits about the train journey from Brighton to London which get me excited.

The first is a wonderful tunnel which you whizz through as it undercuts a section of the South Downs. If you crane your neck (or face backwards without puking) you see a beautiful, over the top tunnel surround, complete with towers. A mini Camelot, which was once inhabited.

The next is the views over the back gardens as you speed into Coulsden - I love the snooping factor of this, but is sort of allowed as I am on a train? I also saw a fox asleep on a shed roof here once which made me chuckle.

The last, which prompts the 'get-your-stuff-away' thought is the sudden and imposing view of the wonderful Battersea Power Station.

There it sits, all sad and lonesome, but with an air of dignity and strength, like a once loved and twinkling star who is clinging on to the edges of their fame as it fades gently into time.

I have to admit that I have a particular love for industrial and abandoned architecture - the emptiness and force of the voids, the contrast of textures as they age and how nature winds her way through the cracks. But it is shameful, in a time of the urban sprawl to not make use of these brownfield sites if we can.

Fortunately, Battersea has seen many incarnations since it stopped producing power in 1983, from art exhibitions to film locations, music videos and installations, and quite recently a fantastic snowboarding Big Air Festival and music festival.

More permanent proposals have been brought to the south bank table, but the most recent is very interesting indeed.

Real Estate Opportunities have set forth an eco-renovation for Battersea which is set to include both green energy production and London's first carbon neutral office complex. Cafe's, restaurants, an events centre and open public space will also be included, all within the iconographic skin of the power station.

Destined to begin in 2011 with completion in 2020, this is a quite slow burner in construction terms, but if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well.

I'll keep me beady little ones on this for you...


  1. So good to know you will update 'us oldies' on post-industrial architecture and re-incarnations. I recall - in the mid-50s as a teenager- our school visit to an iron-foundry making 'segs' - metal spikes you hammered into your boots to lengthen the life of your leather soles. And those Yorkshire woolen mills whose history surely was recounted in so much Victorian literature. It all felt so close, then; a lifetime away, now.

  2. As someone very new to blogging, and a Londoner, I was delighted to read your post. Tate Modern was such an inspiration for the reuse of a redundant building. If only something similar could be done with Battersea.

  3. WSC - I have an old pack of segs in my bathroom - another thing that I found in a charity shop one day which I was drawn to for it's truthful utilitarian feel.

    EH - thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment. I agree that Tate Modern is truly inspirational and has a wonderful sense of place and history, whilst functioning beautifully as a contemporary space. Let's hope Battersea follows suit.