Power Station on Pink Floyd’s ‘Animals’ Cover to Become Luxury Housing Complex
The London architectural icon photographed for the cover of Pink Floyd's 1977 'Animals' LP is being turned into a residential/industrial complex that will house stores, offices and luxury housing.
The BBC reports that work on the Battersea Power Station will include the demolition of the building's distinctive smokestacks -- although the Malaysian developers funding the project are taking care to have them rebuilt and painted the exact same color, using paint from the same company responsible for the original coat. "Take them away, and you don't have an icon," pointed out the head of the architectural firm in charge of the renovation. "The coal fumes has decayed the concrete, so they have to come down. But we're going to painstakingly reconstruct them."
More problematic is the purpose of the new complex, which will turn one of the city's best-loved landmarks into a working, shopping and living destination for the well-off (the new building's "villas" will go for more than $3,300 a square foot). Given that at least one of the alternate plans submitted for the site suggested turning it into a public park, the Battersea overhaul has been a point of controversy for some of the city's residents. As one architect put it, "I think it's rather sad ... My feeling is that it's the sheer opportunity to get a couple of million square feet in there. Under the pretext of keeping the shell of the building, you're getting planning consent for a lot of space."
In its defense, the firm running the project -- which is due to complete its first phase in 2016 -- insist it's taken care to retain as much of the building's original character as possible, opting for "light renovation" that will leave graffiti and assorted wear and tear, as well as a number of "cut-outs" that will "preserve the stunning sense of volume." And no one is arguing against the idea that the plant, which stopped functioning in 1983, needed a lot of work.
For Floyd fans who understood the sociopolitical argument the band made with 'Animals,' and agreed with Roger Waters' point of view regarding the greed of the ruling elites and the plight of the working class, the Battersea plans will likely prove particularly unpleasant. But on the bright side, one of those chimneys will now house an elevator that will take riders to a viewing platform on top, so now we can all get an inflatable pig's-eye view of the city.