SimpsonHaugh partner, Rachel Haugh, tells CLAD about the studio's Phase One development of Battersea Power Station

by Kim Megson | 10 May 2016
We wanted to create something that mediates across all scales: the distant and the intimate.
– Rachel Haugh

Rachel Haugh, the co-founder of British architects SimpsonHaugh and Partners, has told CLAD about her studio’s work on Phase One of London’s Battersea Power Station development, which is nearing completion.

The huge project to build Circus West – a circa 1m sq ft (93,000sq m) development including new homes, workspaces, shops, restaurants, fitness facilities, cafés and cultural venues by the River Thames adjacent to Battersea’s four iconic chimneys – is scheduled for a phased opening from late 2016.

The milestone will mark the first completed project in the high-profile and long-gestating renewal of the power station, which has been masterplanned by Rafael Viñoly. Six other phases will include schemes designed by Frank Gehry, Foster + Partners and Bjarke Ingels. Overseen by the Battersea Power Station Development Company (BPSDC), the 40-acre project will create 18 acres of new public space, including a six-acre public park, approximately 200 shops and restaurants, plus other “state-of-the-art” leisure and recreation facilities.

The whole project is the flagship development of the regeneration of the Nine Elms district: a combination of 20 separate projects covering 560 acres.

“It’s interesting working on a phase of such a major project because the overall site you’re working on is so huge,” said Haugh. “As a result, it’s been relentless in its scale. It’s the biggest project we’ve ever worked on.

“People were quite cynical when we started, wondering whether something so big and talked about would ever come to fruition. Well it has, and we’ve been fortunate to have a visionary client and work in a very transparent environment. It’s gone very well for us as a practice.”

Haugh said the biggest challenge was to make Circus West work on its own terms, as well as part of a much wider development.

“The first phase has to establish itself as a new neighbourhood in its own right, despite the fact the rest of the neighbourhood is going to continue under construction around it once people have moved in,” she said.

“In terms of a standalone arrangement it’s quite pioneering, in that it’s sitting on its own alongside the river and the power station, and the latter phases will follow on.”

Architecturally, SimpsonHaugh wanted to complement “the robust and heavy nature of the iconic power station” with a modern, crystalline form housing the residential and mixed-use components of Circus West.

Haugh said: “It has been a privilege to develop an architectural response to that unique setting. We wanted to create something that mediates across all scales: the distant and the intimate.”

In addition, Circus West, includes the provision of landscaping at grade level.

Phase One has been engineered by Buro Happold and Hoare Lea. The client is the Battersea Power Station Development Company.

SimpsonHaugh celebrate their 30th anniversary next year with a string of project openings, including a concert hall in Antwerp and the One Blackfriars mixed-use tower in London.

“We’ve moved on so far since we started, when we just had two drawing boards and a borrowed typewriter and a phone we were always waiting to ring,” she said. “It’s shown me that if as an architect you have the passion, drive, ambition and aspiration – whether you’re alone or in a partnership – it’s a great profession to make a difference to the world around you.”

Battersea Power Station  architecture  design  SimpsonHaugh  Rachel Haugh  Ian Simpson 
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Rachel Haugh, the co-founder of British architects SimpsonHaugh and Partners, has told CLAD about her studio’s work on Phase One of London’s Battersea Power Station development, which is nearing completion. The huge project to build Circus West – a circa 1m sq ft (93,000sq m) development including new homes, workspaces, shops, restaurants, fitness facilities, cafés and cultural venues by the River Thames adjacent to Battersea’s four iconic chimneys – is
Circus West, located in between the chimneys and Chelsea Bridge, is due to be completed in October 2016 / Battersea Power Station Development Company
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