(Photo Colin Gregory Palmer)

It’s one of the most recognisable buildings in the world, certainly the most famous power station. You would think its adaptive reuse would be so obvious and simple, yet the devious twists and turns in its recent history, the trickery and betrayals, would make baby Jesus weep. Yes, it’s Battersea Power Station, roofless, vandalised, the empty shell slowly being demolished by neglect, but one of those buildings that, once seen, forever haunt the memory.

(Photo Tom Maloney)

The saga has gone on for years despite the devoted efforts of its admirers and maybe just maybe there is finally a resolution at hand. After receiving approval for its redevelopment plans in late 2006 the property company Parkview, owned by the Hwang family, almost immediately sold the site to another development company Real Estate Opportunities. Right from the time of their initial purchase in 1993 it had appeared that Parkview was not acting in good faith and would never carry out their development proposals. Given the severe deterioration of the heritage listed building on their watch their exorbitant profit leaves a very sour taste in the mouth. Now that they are finally gone real progress is possible although there is also still plenty of room for it to go wrong.

But this could be the start of something big. A growing awareness of global warming is finally getting through to even the most reptilian brained corporate leaders. The Conscious Earth reports that Exxon-Mobil, having spent US$16million since 1998 funding “global warming disinformation campaigns” (or lies, as they are usually known) has announced that it is accepting reality and will cease funding organizations that deny climate change science, such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). CEI made the unintentionally but grimly hilarious “CO2 – They call it pollution, We call it life” television ad. Exxon-Mobil will now concentrate their efforts on crippling legislation (they didn’t put it like that, exactly). Also this week the European Commission is calling for an unprecedented common energy policy.

“Europe must lead the world into a new, or maybe one should say post-industrial revolution – the development of a low-carbon economy.”

This all makes one thing clear, there will be more and more redundant coal fired power stations. Few of them are as architecturally impressive as Battersea, the largest brick building in Europe, but most will be candidates for adaptive reuse.

(Photo Dan Taylor)

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