Battersea Power Station:
The story of a remarkable
“If a new landscape works, it feels it has always been there. Power Station Park feels exactly like this. There’s room to soak up the incredible views of the meticulously restored Power Station and space to host large-scale community events.”
Ben Walker, Director, LDA Design
For the first time in its history, Battersea Power Station is more than a building. It has become a welcoming, well-connected place. Creating this new landscape has been a labour of love for LDA Design. Ben Walker, a director at LDA and London studio lead, has been there all along the way.
When LDA Design was invited more than a decade ago to join this transformational project it was a special moment. Battersea Power Station was a ruin, standing within a vast 42-acre wasteland. The challenge was to create a place for people and for nature, a new piece of city that was stitched into the wider neighbourhood.
So, we set about creating a landscape designed to build community and to soften the monumental scale of the Power Station, as well as respond to new buildings by SimpsonHaugh, Foster + Partners and Gehry Partners, LLP. A place that was easy to get around. We designed for wellbeing, sustainability, inclusion, heritage, and biodiversity.
It was critical that people could experience its potential. A pop-up park in 2013 brought people up close to the Power Station for the first time. We used that park to test key vistas and activities, including art installations, music, sport and even a petting zoo.
Nearly half of the Battersea Power Station site is given over to public realm, and it is ecologically rich, well-connected, and memorable. It is designed to accommodate the millions of visitors expected annually but also offers up intimate spaces where it feels good to take time out. There’s a six-acre riverside park, Power Station Park, a high street, Electric Boulevard, and a public square, Malaysia Square, as well as calm gardens, roofscapes and colourful play spaces. The new Tube station has a generous plaza with elegant seating.
If a new landscape works, it feels it has always been there. Power Station Park feels exactly like this. There’s room to soak up the incredible views of the meticulously restored Power Station and space to host large-scale community events. It is welcoming, so you see people stretched out on the generous lawns. Seating here is movable.
The design brings nature into the city with three acres of biodiverse planting for pollinators and wildlife already delivered, and more to follow. Herbaceous perennials, bulbs and trees add texture, colour and seasonal interest, all with a view to climate resilience. Prairie grasses play a softening role and reinforce the human scale. At the outset, we listed all the plants that had self-seeded across the site, and many of those have been reintroduced. Ninety-five bird species have been recorded, including black redstarts, goldfinches and wagtails. A pair of peregrine falcons are nested in the north-east chimney.
The site’s working heritage is referenced in the Corten steel, the robust timber, coal-like black speckled concrete for seating walls, and the metalwork inspired by the Power Station’s Control Room.
Battersea Power Station is both an amazing building and a hugely complex project, and so designing and delivering the public realm and other external spaces has been quite the journey. Looking back at the original brief, it’s quite different to where we ended up, as we responded to shifts in modes of transport, tech disruptors and the digital revolution.
With the opening of the Power Station this autumn, we will really see the entire estate’s spaces come to life. For LDA Design, it is a place that we will return to with our friends and families for years to come.
Photos by Neil Speakman / Maple Studio.