As Heritage Consultants and Conservation Architects at Battersea Power Station, Purcell are involved in key aspects of the £30-billion redevelopment of the iconic Grade II* listed waterfront building. Our roles include Conservation Architects for the brickwork repairs, Heritage Advisors for the internal fit-out, and site-wide Heritage Consultants. A key aspect of this has been our work on the masterplan and placemaking.

Purcell’s understanding of the heritage significance of the site and its original operation has formed the foundation of the Cultural Strategy for the site. Based on documentary research and onsite surveys, this has developed a narrative and provided the stories that will bring the place to life, rediscovering and revealing, making the unseen seen and providing continuity, grounding the development in what has gone before and using this to inform the future.

This translates into the landscaping through the reinterpretation of historic features such as rail tracks, and the re-introduction of historic items of plant into the newly-developed ‘Town Centre’ that the Power Station is to become. Purcell has overseen the removal of surviving elements of the electrical generation equipment, carefully cataloguing each and researching their original functions within the Power Station.

These Items of historic machinery are to be incorporated as objects within the landscape to both enrich the environment artistically and aid in the interpretation of the site, telling the story of how they were used in the generation of electricity. This trail will be brought to life as part of Battersea’s education programme and digital Heritage Trail as key ‘moments’, with Purcell providing material on the provenance and functioning of the individual items placed in strategic locations that respond to original features and functions, together with modern uses and visitor flows.

A further vestige of the past that is to be used to articulate and enliven the waterfront is the historic jetty. Battersea’s riverfront location was vital to its’ operation; in the shadow of the chimneys’ distinctive silhouette the Thames delivered the coal barges that were unloaded via the jetty cranes and provided the fuel to generate a fifth of London’s electricity.

Purcell is collaborating on the scheme for the reuse of the jetty. This will see it reinterpreted as a flexible events space, with a combination of ‘pop-up’ and more permanent new facilities. The cranes, potent symbols of the past industrial activity of the site that have remained familiar waterfront features for over 80 years, are to be the restored and reinstated on the jetty, overseen by Purcell.