Could the London Landscape be Changing?

Feb 22nd, 2012 | By | Category: London News

Battersea Power Station may divide opinion over its brutalist architecture and crumbling presence on the South Bank of the river, but whether you love it or loathe it you cannot doubt its iconic presence. The deconstructed Art Deco station, which has gained cult status by appearing in The Beatles’ film ‘Help’ and on Pink Floyd’s 1977 album Animals, ceased generating electricity in 1983 and has since been a troublesome presence as no-one has taken the reigns of a conversion project.


The building, which some say resembles an upside down table, with its four neo-classical columns that act as smoke funnels on top of the brick structure, is badly in need of repair, which is why so many projects brought to the table have been thwarted, including a proposal from Chelsea Football Club; suggestions that it would be a fantastic arena after the Princess of Wales memorial concert was held there; and $5.5 billion bids for an office complex by Irish firm REO. There has been plenty of interest in the Giles Gilbert Scott designed building, but so far nothing has come to fruition and the structure’s future is looking even more uncertain than ever.


Perhaps the answer lies in another Gilbert Scott conversion, which as proved very successful, the Bankside Power Station, which now houses the Tate Modern. The power station has sporadically been used for exhibitions and events, including the 4-dimensional Bjorn Borg underwear show for London Fashion Week 2012, so could become another important cultural centre, if someone is willing to put up the cash and undertake the massive renovation project.


Although Londoners may be up in arms about it’s demolishment, perhaps they should take note that whilst other historic London buildings have been updated and brought into the 21st century as part of London’s ever shifting landscape, the Power Station has largely remained stagnant; gloomily crumbling like a gothic castle for our times. It may provide pleasing fodder for melancholy photography projects, but maybe it’s time to say goodbye and embrace the new.


Battersea may be getting the chop, but you can visit Gilbert Scott’s more lasting design at Bankside, and luckily there are many fantastic hotels close to the Tate Modern. The Mercure London City is a very reliable and comfortable option with reasonable room rates. The Southwark Rose Hotel offers contemporary design, which reflects the modern art on display in Bankside, or The Bridge Hotel offers a more classic approach, housed in a traditional pub with elegant decor in well-appointed rooms. For a truly superb experience, stay in The Rookery, which features period fittings and stunning design flourishes including copper baths and antique beds.

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