The Battersea Power Station is a Lon- don landmark. Resting on the banks of the River Thames, the 80-year-old, decommissioned coal plant is one of
the largest brick buildings in the world.
The 42-acre (17-hectare) site in southwest London, England has been abandoned since 1983—and
it’s crumbling. Massive concrete towers are rotting
from years of corrosive coal smoke and need to be
completely rebuilt. The brick and steel structure
needs significant repairs. But given the building’s
status as a historic world monument, it can’t be
Battersea offers a promising development opportunity in an up-and-coming neighborhood. But
several previous projects have failed to transform
the brownfield site.
“It is an expensive beast to refurbish. Previous
developers didn’t have the land mass to make the
project cost feasible,” says Mike Grice, the London-based chief construction officer of Battersea Power
Station Development Company. The organization,
owned by a Malaysian consortium that bought the
station site and adjacent land in 2012, expects its £ 9
billion project to be completed in 2026.
The redevelopment project will reimagine the
massive power station and provide better transportation options to and from the locale. It also will
add residential and retail spaces in and around the
plant over eight phases of construction. By building
the space out into a larger footprint, the project
sponsor can use additional revenues generated to
cover the cost of transforming the power station,
Mr. Grice explains.
Construction of a Tube line extension and station
near the site will be entirely funded by the private
sector. Getting approval for this part of the project
into the site plan required a lot of political lobbying
in the early project design stages and was critical
to the success of the project, Mr. Grice says. Easy
subway access will make it easier to attract new
residents to the site.
“The Tube is a game changer for Battersea. Without
it, the project would not be as distinct as it is,” he says.
Still, the project faces significant obstacles. Mr.
Grice’s team spent two
years prepping the site
(construction began in
2013). This included
soil off-site and beginning the rebuild of
decaying chimneys and
wash towers on the
power station. The team
also built a new power substation to support the
increased power use and established a dedicated bus
service for workers to eliminate overcrowding on public
transit during construction.
Project planners also had to factor in the impact
neighboring construction initiatives could have on their
project plan. Adjacent to the Battersea redevelopment
site, which averages 3,000 workers on-site per day,
teams are executing the Thames Tideway sewer project, including boring a tunnel along the length of the
Thames. Both the Battersea and Tideway projects use
the river to ship material off-site, so project leaders had
to collaborate with each other to coordinate road use,
site protection and access to utilities.
“It’s all about de-risking the project on the front
end,” Mr. Grice says. “If you spend the time upfront to
understand and address the challenges you face, you set
yourself up for success.”
An iconic former coal plant is being reimagined for the 21st century.
—Mike Grice, Battersea
Power Station, London,
Battersea Power Station,
London, England. Below,
a rendering of the