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Inside Battersea Power Station, The Ultimate Placemaking Venture

As one of the most ambitious placemaking projects ever undertaken in London, Battersea Power Station will cost £9B (more than it cost to build the stadiums and stage at the 2012 London Olympics) and will feature 8M SF of living, working and public space. 

The magnitude of the site is mind-boggling, especially for London. But more than just the sheer size of the place, the vibe is truly special.

Battersea Power Station

“Our three principles are pioneering, heritage and architecture,” head of office leasing Andrew Hilston said.

The team has reused or preserved many historic artefacts, such as the gorgeous Art Deco tiles inside the power station. The four iconic white chimneys were going to be reused but when they were taken down, they were in such a sorry state they crumbled to ash.

The redevelopment is true mixed-use, and will feature 4,364 new homes (636 will be affordable), 1.3M SF of office, two hotels, two medical centres, two new hotels, 40 restaurants and cafés within the Power Station, 250 shops and food and beverage outlets across the site, a police facility, nursery, village hall and a new Battersea Power Station underground station.

The prime real estate — the power station itself — will be used primarily for offices, Hilston said. 

“We wanted to create the premier office destination in London,” he said. 

Battersea Power Station office lobby

The entire Phase 2 office stock was pre-let four years before it has even been completed, including 500K SF to Apple. Hilston could not say much about the deal due to confidentiality agreements, but said Apple, being a design-led company, has some exciting ideas for the space.

The office offerings will be sandwiched between 253 apartments on top, and three levels of shopping on the ground floors. The tenants are a good mix of independent shops, bars, restaurants and cafés, Hilston said.

Retail arches at Battersea Power Station

Construction has been ongoing since July 2013, and the development is starting to take shape. The first 100 residents have moved into Circus West Village, the luxury apartment development adjacent to the Power Station. The new piazza and public park on the waterfront is still in its infancy, but the river is already taking on a prime role.

“We are trying to use the river as much as possible,” Hilston said. 

Barges against the river wall are being filled with construction waste, where it will be transported up the Thames to its destination, putting fewer trucks on the road. So far, 180,000 tons of construction material for recycling has been moved by river, saving 16,000 lorry journeys.

Battersea Power Station

The Thames will continue to be a source of entertainment and transportation once the development is complete. The Thames Clipper river bus will have a stop at the jetty right on the riverfront. It is a small gesture toward easing what has always been a problem with the Battersea Power Station site: access. Tucked away on the south side of the Thames, it is in the middle of nowhere and hard to get to, though there are two existing Tube lines that go into Victoria and Waterloo. To ease the difficulty of access, the developers have invested over £200M in an extension of the Northern Line.

Hilston said that adding everything at once — the retail, housing and office — creates a critical mass that will form a true destination.