Battersea Power Station (all photographs by the author for Hyperallergic)

Battersea Power Station (all photographs by the author for Hyperallergic)

LONDON — Last weekend, on the occasion of Open House London 2013, the city opened over 800 buildings usually not accessible to the public. This event, loved by curious city-dwellers and architecture fanatics alike, takes place every year, opening the doors of some of the most iconic buildings in London, including 10 Downing Street and The Shard, along with some monuments and private houses considered to be of architectural significance.

It was also the only occasion to visit Battersea Power Station in all its decadence, before its imminent restoration.

Described by the Daily Herald as a “a flaming altar of the modern temple of power,” the building operated as a coal-fired power station from 1933 to 1983. The station became an icon mostly because its appearance on the cover of Pink Floyd’s 1977 album Animals; that photograph depicted the power station with a giant inflatable pig floating above it.

Several redevelopment plans were made since its closure, but all of them ended in failure until last year, when a Malaysian consortium bought the site for £400mTheir multi-billion dollar plan includes the renovation of Battersea Power Station and the development of its area with restaurants, cafes, shops, a theatre, offices, and lavish apartments.

The ambitious project is supervised by architect Rafael Viñoly, whose Walkie-Talkie building was promptly renamed Walkie-Scorchie when it recently melted down parts of a Jaguar parked nearby. (The skyscraper, due to its particular design, can concentrate sunlight onto the street below with enough heat to fry an egg, or a luxury automobile.)

Whether or not the restored Battersea forever changes the structure’s unique aesthetic remains to be seen. In the meantime, here are some images of the iconic building as it appeared at last week’s Open House London.


Francesco Dama is a freelance art writer based in Rome, Italy. He regularly writes for several print and online publications, and wastes most of his time on Instagram.

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