Memories of Battersea: Nick

Memories of Battersea is an oral history video project run by Spectacle and part funded by the Wandsworth Grant Fund. The project gives young adults from Battersea the opportunity to be trained in film-making while producing short films about their neighbourhood, collecting memories from elder Battersea residents, bridging intergenerational gaps and engaging with the history of their borough.

In this video, Spectacle met Nick Wood, the eclectic architect who designed and built the Carey Gardens estate in the early 70s in SW8 Battersea in Wandsworth.

Nick Wood, the GLC architect of Carey Gardens estate

Throughout his successful career at the London County Council and the Greater London Council, Nick aimed to create “council estates that didn’t look like council estates”, designing buildings that could provide an enjoyable living environment for its residents. Nick applied Sir Leslie Martin’s theories on land use to design Carey Gardens estate and his model proved that it was possible to achieve high density with low-rise buildings. During this time period, this was seen as revolutionary seeing as high-rise blocks were seen as more fashionable but cost more to build.

The Carey Gardens estate model, designed by Nick Wood

This Memories of Battersea episode gives an insight into the history of social housing, focusing on the effort of building new homes for the Battersea community after the devastation of World War II. Nick also walks through his theory use and intentions on building Carey Gardens as he sits down with an aerial map of the estate. He also mentions the Carey Gardens Co-operative, the tenant management organisation that plans events and coastal trips for the residents, proving how good urban housing design creates vibrant and happy resident communities.

Watch the full film here.

Visit Spectacle’s Memories of Battersea channel on Vimeo to watch other episodes featuring Battersea residents’ stories.

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Battersea Power Station – from no mans land to architectural extravaganza

 

bps small web

The iconic Battersea Power Station is at the heart of Rafael Vinoly’s master plan – a massive “regeneration” scheme for Battersea.

The riverfront district of Southwest London around the Battersea Power Station will soon be unrecognizable due to a huge “regeneration” scheme. The Battersea Power Station which has remained largely unused since its closure in 1983 is at the heart of this luxury housing development financed by a Malaysian real estate investment group Eco World.

This regeneration scheme has recently hit the headlines with its culmination London’s first ‘sky pool’, a swimming pool which has been planned to bridge two 10-storey buildings in Embassy Garden’s as a part of the Battersea “redevelopment” plan.

However Nine Elms ‘sky pool’ has not been acclaimed by everyone. A private swimming pool sky bridge in the middle of London’s affordable housing crises has stormed critique as a symbol of rising inequality. The recent newspaper headlines show the other side of the story of the highest residential swimming pool in London:

The Independent wrote: “Nine Elms ‘sky pool’: luxury London flat owners  will be able to swim while literally looking down on everyone else”.

In addition, The Guardian stated: “The ‘sky pool’ is just the start: London prepares for a flood of bathing oligarchs”.

The planned luxury flats are being criticized for being aimed at wealthy foreign buyers taking advantage of the rising value of property in London. In January 2013 the first residential apartments went on sale and now all of the Thames-facing apartments have already been sold, way before the project was even launched.

Last year the reselling cycle made possible that the flats with starting prices from £1 million were on sale later on the year for £1.5 million. However the rapidly increasing prices are only a one side of the issue. The fundamental conflict lies on the fact that only 16 % of the planned new homes (560 of the total of 3,444) will be affordable housing.

pbs model

The “redevelopment” of Battersea would change the Landscape of London – the iconic Power Station would be surrounded by huge building blocks.

Since the power station ceased generating electricity in the 80s, it has become one of the best known landmarks in London. As the largest brick building in Europe, the iconic power station was listed on the World Monuments Watch by the World Monuments Fund in 2004.

During the past 50 years, numerous redevelopment plans for the Battersea Power Station have been introduced. However these projects have usually failed due to a lack of funding. In 2010 Real Estate Opportunities were granted permission to redevelop the power station. This resulted in the creation of the current master plan for Battersea, an architect Rafael Vinoly’s design which gained planning consent from Wandsworth Council in 2011.

However, Vinoly does not have exactly a clean architectural record. According to the BBC the ‘Walkie Talkie’ skyscraper on Fenchurch Street in London had been blamed for reflecting light and causing a ‘death ray’ with a high temperature. The 37-storey tower designed by Rafael Vinoly was claimed to damage vehicles by melting parts of them and even causing fires.

Last week Building Design magazine announced that Walkie Talkie, nicknamed because of its bulbous, curving shape was voted for the worst building in London. Building Design’s annual Carbuncle Cup sparked an online debate including not so flattering comments about the building such as one reader commenting: “I now have a new personal goal: to live long enough to see this building demolished”.

Now the planned Phase 3 with proposals for the future of Battersea and the power station has been revealed by the Battersea Power Station Development Company, a Malaysian consortium in charge of the project. The Phase 3 of the project will provide 1,310 residential homes with only 103 of them being affordable which is less than 8 % of the houses that are planned to be build.

Will this solve the growing divide in the London housing market? Very unlikely. So far it seems that the beneficiaries are the wealthy few who the housing crisis doesn’t hit with its sky-high prices.

Click Battersea Power Station for more blogs
See our Battersea Power Station project pages for more information and videos.
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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Battersea Power Station Original Plans

Courtesy of Brian Barnes of the Battersea Power Station Community Group, what we have beneath are some of the original plans for the station, fuelling the debate on what the site should now be used for.

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Visit Spectacle’s on-going Battersea Power Station Project

Watch a video trailer here: Battersea Power Station – The Story So Far

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If you live in the neighbourhood and would like to get involved, contact us here putting Battersea Power Station in your message.

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“The Glass Ceiling” Problems with the glass

Para leer este blog en español pincha aquí.

Today everything seemed to be upside down. We had a lot of problems because of the glass. We could not find a suitable structure to use for the shoot and there were still a number questions to be answered.

Number one: What material should we use to build the structure?

We were going crazy calling glass experts and architects. They explained us the size we need for the glass in order to make it able to support a person weight. They told us that the glass is built with green tints, which is a problem if we are going to shoot in a green cove. In addition to that, the director of photography would have to deal with some more problems because the green color will be reflected in the glass.

Looking for other options.Can we use locations with glass already there?

We tried  to find a location in London with a glass floor that we could use for the shoot instead of a structure. We found different ones… We found a gym with glass corridors, a building made of glass, even an office with a glass floor/ceiling that could be perfect for our purpose.  But, to be honest, we did not feel happy with any of these options… When we talked with the CGI people and they told us that it is really complicated to integrate that space with the images we get at the Studio. So, we forget about that idea.

The final solution…Perspex!
Everything is getting more and more complicated. We make more calls, we seek more advice…

Do we really need to use glass or could we use perspex?

This is an idea we have had for a while and after seeking advice, we decided that it is the best solution. It will not be as heavy as glass, it will be faster and cheaper to make, it will be able to cope with one person walking in the surface and it will be easier to transport. So, finally we have a answer: PERSPEX.

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