Battersea Power Station development looks to Middle East investors
London - Battersea Power Station is a London icon, its four great chimneys dominating the British capital’s skyline. Now, with an ambitious redevelopment project in the works, Battersea Power Station is looking to be a new exciting hub on the south banks of the Thames and the home away from home for London’s Middle Eastern contingent.
The ambitious development, which includes the redevelopment of the Battersea Power Station as well as a number of new buildings by some of the world’s leading architects, is one of the biggest projects in Europe. The site covers 17 hectares and construction will take place over seven phases, ending in 2022.
The project is being largely financed by a Malaysian consortium, although Battersea Power Station Development Company (BPSDC) is looking to the Middle East, and particularly the United Arab Emirates, for investors.
“The National Bank of Abu Dhabi [is] one of our lenders and they are extremely supportive of the project. In fact, we have a team going to Abu Dhabi and Dubai over the next month,” BPSDC Chief Executive Officer Rob Tincknell said.
On reaching out to investors in the UAE, BPSDC Chief Financial Officer Simon Murphy said: “We’re doing more than just exhibitions… Some people in the region have already realised the benefits of being part of the Battersea story. We’re going to share the story with people and raise awareness. It isn’t just about selling; it’s about building awareness and developing relations.”
“Our main funding in Phase II was sharia compliant, which was the biggest funding of that nature in the UK ever. I think that has generated some support among Middle Eastern buyers for the project, they know that we are respectful of that,” Tincknell added.
For the developers, “placemaking”, an architectural term signifying a multifaceted approach to building planning and design, is the watchword for the Battersea project. The ultimate aim is to create an attractive and self-sustaining community.
“Placemaking really is at the heart of this project. We did a huge amount of research on what makes a great place. It’s got to be something that’s alive and has a real spark to it, especially when you have this incredible monument — the Battersea Power Station — at the real heart of it,” Tincknell said.
He said the site will be 43% commercial, including the biggest retail and leisure scheme in central London. The project calls for 150,000 square metres of offices, which will cater to 10,000 people.
“[There will be] three hotels and lots of other smaller commercial spaces, as well as 4,000 apartments,” Tincknell said. “We like to think of it as a cocktail. It’s a mix of uses with each one supporting the other. This is a careful balance.”
Dave Twohig, head of design and placemaking for BPSDC, concurs. “There are great mixed-use projects in the Middle East and Asia but London doesn’t do that,” he said. “One developer does the housing, another does the city offices but nobody has the skill-set to put those together and that is not good for the city fabric. This is where Battersea Power Station is different. Mixed-use is the key.”
The decommissioned power station will be at the centre of the development. The power station’s brick building and four chimney stacks dominate London’s south bank but it is not until one nears the structure that the sheer scale and size of the building become clear. Battersea Power Station is large enough to contain St Paul’s Cathedral and can fit the Tate Modern gallery on either side.
Phase III involves a collaboration between US architect Frank Gehry, utilising deconstructive aesthetic incorporating curves and reflection, and UK architect Norman Foster. “Our goal from the start has been to create a neighbourhood that connects into the historic fabric of the city of London, but one that has its own identity and integrity. We have tried to create humanistic environments that feel good to live in and visit,” Gehry said in a 2014 release.
“Very rarely do people have the opportunity to live in a home which can really become an extension of their personality. Living in a Frank Gehry building says something very strongly about who you are,” said Tincknell.
That same building will also have one of the world’s largest roof gardens, designed by James Corner Field Operations, the architect responsible for New York’s acclaimed High Line linear park.
“This is an example of our community aspirations. It will have outdoor kitchens and seating. The idea is that residents can book a kitchen and have a barbecue and you get to know people, you make friends with other residents and the community starts to engage. That’s what it’s all about,” Tincknell said.