New designs by Norman Foster and Frank Gehry for a neighbourhood of 1300 homes as the third phase in the redevelopment at Battersea Power Station in south London were published yesterday. What a contrast between the two architects – Foster creates a cool well-mannered design that builds on his other work nearby; Gehry in contrast proposes a wavy undulating structure reminiscent of his work for public buildings in Bilbao, Los Angeles and at MIT in Cambridge, Mass.
At the heart of the development is a pedestrianised high street, the “Electric Boulevard”, one side of which Gehry proposes a cluster of five residential buildings known as “Prospect Place”, while on the other side Foster proposes an apartment block, to be known as “The Skyline”. Prospect Place will accommodate around half of the 1300 new homes, plus double-height shops, a community centre and a park. The Skyline will have two levels of shops at its base and a 250-metre garden on its roof, affordable housing at the southern tip with a medical centre and a 160-room hotel at the northern end.
“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,” said Gehry. “We have tried to create humanistic environments that feel good to live in and visit.”
“It will transform the area and create a vibrant new district for south London that we can all be proud of,” said Grant Brooker, design director and senior partner at Foster’s.
Gehry’s designs, to be clad in a material such as titanium will be a challenge for construction companies; it will be expensive, so the apartments are obviously designed for the international market. It will be interesting to see what freedom Gehry will have inside the apartments – his interiors are part of the joy of his public buildings. Will the commercial realities of residential development allow him any freedom. If not, it might be better to buy in Foster’s building and have the view of Gehry’s facades.
In terms of an urban street, this will undoubtedly be an exciting destination to go and shop, drink and eat and enjoy the summer sunshine, along with the other facilities in the overall development, as part of the wider regeneration of the waterfront area of this part of the River Thames.