ICONIC LANDMARKS | 3 MINUTE READ
CATHEDRAL OF RED BRICK:
BATTERSEA POWER STATION
We have always looked for symbols to inspire and fulfil us, from ornate basilicas and allegorical marble marvels to revolution-inspiring speakers and establishment-defying musicians. That which inspires and bring us together. Described as the ‘Temple of Power’, Battersea Power Station – a cathedral of red brick and four smoke steeples – is as much an icon of the London skyline as
St Paul’s Cathedral.
Part of an imperative chronicle, this emblematic centre played a huge role in the revolution of the energy industry, by transferring ownership to the public for the first time in history. After three decades of closure and several hopeful bids of restoration (one theme park) permission has been granted to undergo an estimated £1 billion renovation.
STEEPED IN ICONICITY
In 1930 the London Power Company were in search of a new look. In need of someone to lead the way with their new series of ‘superstations’ and who better, than the man who brought icons such as the K2 red telephone box or the (now) Tate Modern to London.
Battersea Power Station is the industrial love child of the visionary architect ‘Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’ and the commission of the London Power Company. In the face of a project unlike any other, Sir Scott left all inhabitation aside and what he created was nothing short of awe-inspiring. In 1933 the ties were cut to the A Station. Spectators pushed open the bronze-laced doors to reveal a wrought-iron staircase that leads to an Art Deco control room. Walls lined with Italian marble and polished parquet flooring make up the majority of the building's foundation and still stand today.
In 1978, three years after the closure of the A Station, rumours began to circulate that B Station would soon follow. A campaign, as part of the National Heritage, launched to save the building, granting it a Grade II listed status in 1980.
This building is a constant reminder of the growth and evolution of British industry – an aide-mémoire of where, and just how far, we have come. But beyond its obvious significance; Battersea Power Station has been an integral part of the art in culture scene in London.
BEATS OF BATTERSEA
The grandeur of this building has always been a magnet for artists. A young Alfred Hitchcock granted the station it’s first cinematic debut back in 1936, with his film ‘Sabotage’ – one of his earlier creations. British treasure ‘The Beatles’ were also fascinated by this industrial image, featuring it in their 1965 film ‘Help!’. More recently it morphed into the shadowy backdrop for Batman blockbuster ‘The Dark Knight’; a bat-suited Christian Bale assumes his hench stance over a desolate warehouse (Battersea) planning his next big move.
But it's not just the silver screen that is drawn to Battersea, in-fact arguably its most popular expenditure is its presence in the music industry. It was involved in worldwide hysteria back in 1977 when it played an integral part in Pink Floyd's ‘Animals’ album. The band’s pig-shaped inflatable, affectionately known as ‘Algie’, was attached to one of the station’s southern chimneys as part of a quirky statement image for the cover art, but plans went astray during the shoot as the 40-foot balloon broke loose and caused mass panic at air traffic control. Above Algie’s piggy propaganda, Battersea was the band’s first choice for many reasons. In an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, Rodger Waters (the band’s leading man) told readers that he had always “loved the building, as a piece of architecture”.
A STAR IS BORN
The new Battersea Power Station is a testament to contemporary commercial architecture and a welcomed breath of fresh air, after a lot of fear and uncertainty for the British economy and national moral.
Going where innovation leads, technology giant ‘Apple’ has made the bold decision to move their new European Headquarters to the Battersea Power Station complex. With plans to house their 1,400 employees in the station’s central boiler house, Apple will occupy 40% of the development’s total office space, over six stories and 50,000 square foot.
A little known, extra-special touch is the reformation of one of the chimneys into a spectacular glass elevator; one that will offer breathtaking views across London 100 meters above ground. Two of the remaining stacks will be replaced with replicas producing steam from a gas-powered energy center, paying homage to the station’s original tenacity – and the last, arguably most prolific, is the implementation of the brand new “Battersea Power Station” stop on Henry Charles Beck’s iconic tube map. These combined proceedings are further contributions to the legacy of Battersea Power Station and long may it reign.