There is nothing quite like a creative redux on a post industrial site. When done right, innovative reuse and repurposing of obsolete structures can set some pretty amazing examples for a sustainable future. One such model conversion is taking root in the newly unveiled plan for Battersea Power Station in London. Once a coal-fired electric plant (and defunct for near 25 years), this industrial icon is getting a 21st century makeover to become a mixed use development that produces renewable energy.
The master vision is headed up by London-based Real Estate Opportunities Limited (REO) with a new landmark building designed by architect Rafael Viňoly. The idea is to breathe life back into the site and structures through what the collaborators call “the most advanced sustainable development ever to be built in this country.”
The plan calls for an innovative natural ventilation feature, a 300 meter high chimney in Viňoly’s design which is being touted as the “cleanest and greenest building in London.” The dual purpose of the chimney is to house apartments and provide a natural thermal draw that ventilates the living spaces and ground floor retail spaces. The “eco-dome” at the foot of the chimney allows solar gain to heat the air, creating a natural upwards draft. The “chimney” effect will cool the building without mechanical air conditioning and significantly decrease energy demand.
A portion of the project’s £4 billion budget will go towards renovation of the original 1930s power station. Historically significant spaces will be repaired and open to the public as an industrial heritage site. Other sections of the old power plant will be developed into hotel, residential and commercial space. The power station will also be adapted to produce renewable energy from biofuels, waste and other sources. Parts of the existing building will be used in these new processes - for instance, two old chimneys will be put to use as flues to exhaust water vapor from the new biofuel energy plant.
As the largest development site in London, the new Battersea Power Station has some pretty impressive tallies. It will house nearly 7,000 people, create up to 20,000 new jobs, and provide about 8 million square feet (750,000 square meters) of residential, office and retail space. The site will also incorporate a six acre public park, a riverside walk and an urban square. Discussions are also in the works to extend a Tube line into the new development.
The immense project of turning Battersea from an abandoned industrial site to a mega mixed-use energy center is expected to start in 2012 and be completed by 2020.