Battersea Power Station Sets an Example

Battersea power station renewal photo

Many years ago Peter Gzowski ran a competition to find a Canadian equivalent to "as American as apple pie." The winner was "As Canadian as possible, under the circumstances." -the perfect motto for a comfortable little nation with small visions. A perfect example of how nations and cities with big ideas and ambitions work can be seen in the respective treatment of architecturally interesting power stations in Toronto and London.

How London Does It

The Battersea power station is being converted into an "eco-dome" and is billed as " the most advanced sustainable development ever built in the UK" and will bring back the power station to burn renewable resources instead of coal. It will be a focus of waterfront development:

Battersea overview photo

"Centered on the reconstruction of the remarkable architectural presence of the Power Station, the design introduces a fluid geometry for the new residential buildings that helps guide public access to the site and the waterfront," [architect Rafael] Vinoly said.

"The open character of the vast industrial naves designed by Gilbert Scott is maintained and the chimneys are brought back into operation, utilized to exhaust water vapour produced by a new biofuel energy plant located in the basement."

Battersea view from north photo

He added that the "naturally-ventilated" tower would be mainly made up of office space with some residential apartments.

"The visual presence of this near transparent marker on the skyline defines a new opportunity area signalling London's commitment to innovation and sustainability," he said. ::BD Online

How Toronto Does It


Now I will admit that Waterfront Toronto is doing an interesting job of replanning Toronto's waterfront, but there is a big missing tooth in their plan right here, an opportunity that was thrown away completely. Surrounded by water and what will be a terrific park, the Hearn Generating Station is being leased to a film studio, a use that has almost disappeared in Toronto since the collapse of the American dollar. Next to it they have built a new natural gas power station that nobody wanted, and did not even bother connecting it to the 700 foot stack so we wouldn't have to breathe its exhaust.

Axle on Flickr

The interior is being lackadaisically cleaned out, but in the meantime is a playground for amateur urban archaeologists (one died this week, falling into an old coal chute; that's how good the security is)and artistic photographers.

In one city: a vision of a green future, making green energy and setting an example. In the other: a barn, tainted by a billion dollar fossil fuel plant that nobody wanted and probably isn't even needed, as Toronto reduces it's electricity demands through conservation. In one city, a grand vision; in another a complete failure of vision.

Toronto Waterfront in TreeHugger:

Toronto Portlands Redevelopment Ideas Revealed
Toronto : A Bold Vision for a Green Future
Greenwash Watch: Greenwrapping : Solar Panels on a New Gas Fired ...

Tags: Cities | London | Toronto


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