Battersea Power Station will reopen as an office, shopping and restaurant area


London – Battersea Central is set to re-open next week as a glittering array of offices, flats, restaurants and shops after decades of failed regeneration of one of the capital’s most iconic buildings, often described as the ‘Everest of real estate’.

The 1930s power station supplied a fifth of London’s electricity, including Buckingham Palace and parliament, but is best known for appearing on the cover of Pink Floyd’s 1977 album “Animals” with a floating inflatable pig.

The colossal brick building rose to prominence as one of London’s toughest real estate challenges after a series of false starts, including an attempt to reinvent it as a theme park.

Turbine Hall B in its new configuration.

Backdrop Productions/Reuters

Its £9 billion ($10.2 billion) redevelopment, backed by a group of Malaysian investors, will see thousands of people working in and around the once abandoned station after it opens on October 14.

Apple will become the office’s largest tenant, occupying six floors in the central boiler room, known for its four white chimneys dominating the south bank of the River Thames.

A View of the Control Room.

A View of the Control Room.

James Parsons/Reuters

About 96% of the commercial space is now full, Battersea Power Station Development Company’s Simon Murphy told reporters on Tuesday.

“It has taken hard work, determination and the continued commitment of Malaysian shareholders over the past 10 years to return Battersea Power Station to its former glory,” Murphy said, noting that the cost of restoring the station was £2. million ($2.3 million) per day at its peak.

The Battersea project, spread over an area the size of 32 football pitches, received a major boost last year after a London Underground station opened a two-minute walk away, partly funded by the development company.

“Without Tue, we wouldn’t be bringing in our office occupiers, we wouldn’t be bringing in the retailers,” Murphy said. “Neither project could survive without the other.”

Taking care of industrial details

In 1983 the coal plant was completely closed.

Its redevelopment will see more than 250 apartments around the center costing £865,000 ($980,000) each, in addition to commercial space that should bring in £100 million ($113 million) in annual rent, Murphy said.

The project will bring dozens of retailers, including Zara, Hugo Boss and Ralph Lauren, including a 1950s-era bar on the site of the station’s Control Room B, filled with now-defunct switches and mechanical dials.

B View of the Control Room, completely renovated.

B View of the Control Room, completely renovated.

Backdrop Productions/Reuters

Indeed, much of the project has focused on maintaining an industrial feel, from exposed brick walls and a large rusted crane left hanging in the central hall to escalators with transparent side panels that reveal the machinery inside.

For a view of London’s skyline, visitors can take a 109-metre (358-foot) elevator to the top of one of the chimneys, rebuilt over three years with 25,000 wheels of hand-poured concrete to the specifications of the original design.

“We want to make sure that people, when they enter the building, realize that this was a power plant and not think it’s a new building,” said Sebastian Ricard, one of the architects involved in the renovations.