The Battersea Power Station’s Landscape Plan

battersea poerstation landscape rendering

If you have been to London, England for even 5 minutes you have probably noticed the Battersea Power Station.  It’s the big interesting looking set of buildings that is within eye shot of nearly every major attraction in the city.  So it is not without anticipation and excitement that its renovation into a mixed use of housing, hotel and shopping comes.  It’s an iconic building even in disrepair, so certainly it will be extraordinary when it is done. (We hope.)

But this level of ‘extraordinary’ is hard to believe.  Really,(?) when it is complete, central London will become home to exotic parakeets and rainbow macaws? And it will have an old growth ancient looking forest along the banks of the Thames river?  Really? Now that is something to be excited about.  If it fact that is what is going to happen.

If not, it leaves me with lots of questions, like, does the design firm responsible for the rendering have any idea about the ecology or biology of the region (as they should) and the fact that these birds don’t really frequent the area?   and  Is there some sort of new trick for making newly planted trees look like an old forest?   and  Is  ‘Ancient Forest’ really the look that best fits this site (smack in the middle of one of the most industrialized, modern cities in the world)?

I get that there is probably a significant amount of artistic license here and ok, I am willing to let some things slide, but I think that this type of presentation causes two problems.  1) Ridiculous expectations are set and disappointment is sure to follow, and 2) This firm is really opening themselves up to questions about their own skill level.  It reminds me of a recent interaction I had with a certain email campaign company.  I researched and tested, got quotes and went to great effort to sort out what I thought would be the best company to support my studio ‘g’ email list as well as my Harvard Farmers Market email list.  And then I got to the paying part…and they don’t have the ability to do online payment!?!  I had to use a Fax machine to send my credit card information!?!  I immediately questioned all my conclusions about the quality of their product. Can a good software product come from a software company who is operating with 1990’s payment technology?  I don’t know, maybe, but I’m not going to find out.  I moved on as I expect that we should with this landscape rendering.  Don’t expect this project to look like anything like this when its done, I’m going to break it to you now,  it just won’t.

I guess my point is that I think as Landscape professionals we all have a responsibility to educate people and doing this type of thing, particularly on such a high profile project, seems to me to put us all in a bit of a bad light.  What do you think?  Am I overreacting or do you agree?


image from bdonline.

4 Responses to The Battersea Power Station’s Landscape Plan

  1. I guess the planting is quite ambitous and mature! But as far as the birds go, London, in particular south west London, is home to a large population of parakeets. So much so that the councils are trying to cut the numbers due to damage. They are everywhere, so that part is pretty reasonable to believe. Crazy but true!

  2. Nicola – my husband pointed that out too (after I posted) — I had no idea….but still rainbow macaws? or maybe I was just in an overly feisty mood yesterday. ;)

  3. This looks like the work of Scottish firm GROSS.MAX, and their work is unapologetically about creating beautiful imagery as well as beautiful landscape architecture – they are visual artists in a 2-D medium as well as in 3-D. I think its a gorgeous image, and the people who commission GROSS.MAX as artists/landscape artists are familiar with their incredible technical abilities in planting as well as imagery. Their work is also heavily influenced by history, and they undertake huge amounts of research before proposing a scheme. There’s nothing wrong with romance and imagination in the centre of a city!

  4. Agree with you totally. Very easy to get carried away rendering without keeping an eye on the realistic end-goal. However, saying that, i’d be very excited if they pulled it off.

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