Standing on the south bank of the River Thames Battersea Power Station has been a dominant and iconic feature of London’s skyline for over 80 years. At its height, the station supplied one-fifth of London’s electricity needs until it was decommissioned in 1983.
Its future existence was uncertain for many years and the building sat dormant and empty. Plans to demolish the building were scrapped after it was declared a heritage site in 1980 and awarded Grade II listed status, which was subsequently upgraded to Grade II* in 2007. And it’s not hard to understand why this cathedral-like building needed to be preserved. Battersea Power Station is a superb example of Art Deco architecture and interior design, from its distinctive façade and four monolithic chimneys to the magnificent marble-lined walls of the turbine hall, polished parquet floors, bronze doors and wrought iron staircases throughout, details and materials that are synonymous with the Art Deco style.
Over the years, many redevelopment proposals have fallen by the wayside, but in 2012 Battersea Power Station was bought by a Malaysian consortium of property development and investment companies. This marked the beginning of a major regeneration project spanning some 40 acres to build residential homes, office space, shops, hotels, leisure facilities and restaurants – even an extension of the Northern Line to enhance transport links. At the heart of this project, to be completed in seven phases, is Battersea Power Station itself. The first three of these phases are well underway and Wandsworth Electrical is delighted to be involved in all of them, working with some of the world’s leading architects and interior designers to deliver high quality, designer lighting and electrical accessories.
Phase 1: Circus West
Construction of Circus West started in 2013 and is due for completion in 2016/17. Along with restoration of the power station’s exterior and interior, including reconstruction of the chimneys, 866 residential homes are being built. Designed by New York firm Rafael Vinoly Architects, and featuring interiors by LINLEY Interior Design, 75% of the penthouses, apartments and townhouses sold off-plan within four days of being released.
Innovative and Premium Supplier Required
Common to the design of both Circus West and The Power Station was a desire to achieve a modern and elegant reinterpretation of a bygone era. Meticulous attention to detail and finishes were essential, and quality, visual aesthetics and tactility were significant factors in the specification of every item. With these requirements in mind, the designers needed a supplier who could deliver as specified and turned to Wandsworth Electrical, to provide the electrical sockets and switches for all of the apartments within the re-development.
The toggle switch from our Penthouse Collection provided the perfect starting point. The design is based on the classic ‘Dolly’ switches used extensively in both residential and commercial premises during the first half of the 20th century. It also perfectly echoes the style of switches used in Battersea Power Station’s control room. Finished in dark antique bronze and mounted on a square-edged plate, the resulting switch echoes the clean lines of Art Deco and conjures up a retro feel of the 1930s. However, just as important as the aesthetics was the need to fulfil all the requirements of lighting, power and connectivity typical of 21st-century lifestyles and definitely expected by potential buyers of these apartments.
We restructured our toggle switch into a multi-functional unit from which lighting levels can be easily controlled. Pushing down on, and then releasing, the toggle switch activates ‘dimmer mode’. Holding the switch down again moves the connected lights through their normal dimming/brightening spectrum. Once the preferred lighting level is reached the switch is simply released. The innovation and reimagining of the classic Dolly switch fitted perfectly with the vision of Rafael Vinoly – enabling the architects and interior designers to maintain the integrity of their designs and deliver the very best in modern functionality.
For the internal electrical points, we created a unique electrical plate featuring both normal 3-pin sockets for standard power supply and built-in USB connections that provide a charging point for portable devices using standard USB connector cables. Whilst this is becoming increasingly common in modern builds, especially as part of standard hotel room fixtures and fittings, our custom-designed plate epitomises Wandsworth Electrical’s reputation for exquisite bespoke design and the very highest levels of quality British manufacturing.
Proud to continue the Legacy
Wandsworth Electrical has for many years worked with designers and architects on listed properties, stately homes and historic public buildings to design and manufacture electrical accessories that help retain a building’s authentic look and feel whilst providing modern functionality. Our involvement in the development of Battersea Power Station builds on this aspect of our work and we are proud to be part of the next stage in Battersea Power Station’s history as the station and the surrounding area takes on new purpose and a fresh, vibrant community is established