The new London neighbourhood breathing life into one of our most iconic landmarks
The statistics are staggering: with more than 4,000 new homes, over 250 shops, cafés and restaurants, two hotels, 1.25 million sq/ft of office space, 18 acres of parks and gardens, 450m of River Thames frontage and a proposed zone one Tube station on the Northern line extension, the £9bn, 42-acre Battersea Power Station development looks set to be one of the most exciting London has ever seen.
And, in what has been so far a mammoth five-year project, 2017 marks the first chapter of a vision realised with the spring opening of Circus West Village. Housed in a mix of refurbished railway arches and new retail units at ground level of the SimpsonHaugh and dRMM-designed buildings, next to the Power Station and the River Thames, will be a selection of local shops – a florist, baker, butcher and the Battersea General Store – together with artisan coffee shops, river-front restaurants and a village pub. Other planned retail elements include Electric Boulevard, with over 40 international flagship stores, designer brands and favourite high-street names that will combine the best that Britain has to offer with the best that the world can bring to the capital.
The design team behind Battersea Power Station is world-class and Rafael Viñoly’s overall masterplan will be delivered by a host of leading architects, interior and landscape designers, from Foster + Partners and Gehry Partners to WilkinsonEyre. The iconic Grade II* listed Power Station itself, which is one of the most significant surviving examples of Art Deco architecture, is being fully restored and, when completed, will be open to the public for the first time in its history. Inside, there will be nearly 100 more shops, an impressive 40,000sq/ft urban food hall concept with kiosks, bars and an open kitchen, as well as a boutique cinema and an events space.
One of the overriding principles of the project has been to preserve and showcase as much of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s original design as possible, so the four chimneys are being carefully dismantled and rebuilt to more modern specifications, while retaining the same appearance, and there will be a viewing platform on top of one of the chimneys, offering visitors panoramic views of the city’s skyline (completion for this phase is expected in 2020).
The other big milestone for 2017 is that the first of the long-awaited residents will be moving into the first phase, Circus West. The Power Station will be a fully mixed-use building and location for a portion of the project’s homes (ranging from studios to five-bedroom flats and penthouses), which are set within the retained original façades along the western and eastern flanks of the building; other apartments are on the top levels of the Boiler House, in Switch House East and Switch House West. To the south of the Power Station is ‘Prospect Place’ and ‘Battersea Roof Gardens’, a unique partnership between architectural practices Gehry Partners and Foster + Partners. The latter is designing Battersea Roof Gardens, a light, very crisp building of white concrete, featuring lots of glass and coloured metals that contrast beautifully with the solid brick of the Power Station.
When the first of these homes in Circus West (the first phase) was put on the market three years ago, 75 per cent sold off-plan in the first week – reportedly making this the fastest selling property development on record in London (we’ve heard whispers that exclusive riverside penthouses are soon to be released to the market, so there’s still time to snap one up). Residents also have access to facilities such as a Residents’ Club with a bar, private dining space, library and screening room; online notice boards that connect them to each other as well as local events via a personalised mobile portal; and one of London’s largest roof gardens at 1,200ft long. Dubbed the ‘garden in the sky’ it is being designed by James Corner of Field Operations, who was behind New York’s famous and hugely successful High Line. The apartments are also available to rent through bpsestates.co.uk, with tenants enjoying the same benefits as owner-occupiers.
What brings the retail spaces, residences and not forgetting office space together though, is the fact that this is a real, living and breathing new neighbourhood for London, within 15 minutes of the City and the West End, and only a short stroll from Chelsea and Sloane Square. There is understandably a real emphasis on the community, from the practical (two medical centres, a gym, and a new River Bus service that will operate from a new purpose-built jetty in front of the riverside park) to the social and fun curated events. The team are continually thinking about what’s best for the new and existing surrounding communities and are so serious about this ethos that they have put in place a ‘Community Charter’ which acts as a blueprint for their pledge to create and nurture Battersea Power Station as an environment where people want to work, live and bring up their families.
Of course the team also wants to encourage those who aren’t working and living here to come and enjoy the restaurants, shops and facilities too (Battersea Power Station is expected to attract 40 million visitors a year), whether that’s popping into the street food market for lunch or meeting friends for afternoon tea at one of the cafés. One way of doing this is through the Village Hall, which is being run in partnership with Battersea Arts Centre and will have a full programme of performances, cultural events and experiences throughout the year.
There will also be a Heritage Trail, for those interested in the site’s history (including viewing holes in the Power Station hoarding in Circus West Village), clubs and social groups, and plenty of green, outdoor spaces for relaxing during the summer, which connect directly to Battersea Park and Chelsea via a new riverside pathway. All of which adds up to an innovative, creative quarter that finally puts Battersea Power Station back in business – and that can only be good news for London.
BATTERSEA POWER STATION 188 KIRTLING STREET, LONDON SW11 8BN +44 (0)20 7501 0678