Innovative Power Station Conversions

Image by Tyla'75

Image by Tyla’75

Despite being traditionally labelled as “eye-sores”, it’s amazing what a little imagination and foresight can bring to former industrial buildings. For instance, northern England’s “dark Satanic mills” (a term which entered the popular vernacular via William Blake’s poem: “And did those feet in ancient times”) have been transformed from eighteenth century hell holes to some of the most stylish and interesting renovations. And as we can see here, even derelict power stations can provide a blank canvas for twenty-first century recreation.

Battersea Power Station

Image by rp72


This phenomenal art deco building is a disused coal-fired power station on the south bank of the River Thames in London. It was built in two identical parts, originally in the 1930s with the second section added in the 1950s. Situated close to the railway line into Waterloo Station, Battersea Power Station has become an iconic sight on the south London skyline.

The building has made a massive cultural impact spanning multiple decades. It achieved global recognition in 1977 as the cover photo for Pink Floyd’s album, Animals, featuring that famous inflatable pig! In television, the structure appeared briefly in The Beatles’ 1965 film Help!, identified only as “a famous power station.” More recently, it provided filming locations for Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket as well as The Dark Knight.

Several redevelopment schemes have been put forward for the old power station. The definitive one, due to begin in 2011, will see a £150 million restoration effort led by Real Estate Opportunities (REO) – part of a massive £4 billion pound overhaul of the area. The innovative plans include reusing part of the building as a power station, fueled by biomass and waste, with the original chimneys used for venting steam. In addition, there will be retail units, a park and an energy museum, bringing Battersea Power Station back to life for a new generation.

Image by Annie Mole

Image by Annie Mole

Check out these amazing pics from Dark Roasted Blend.

Tate Modern

Image by Eirian Evans

Building reuse doesn’t get any more imaginative than this! Britain’s museum of international modern art – Tate Modern – is housed within the former Bankside Power Station, across the River Thames from the City of London. With the destruction of so many of industry’s more interesting older buildings, it’s great to see modern foresight embracing yesterday’s icons. And what an ideal space for permanent and temporary exhibitions alike:

Image by Rachel Whiteread

Image by Rachel Whiteread

Bankside Power Station was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, who was also the architect of Battersea (above). Construction began in 1947, and the power station finally closed in 1981. History of the site and the building’s conversion later became the focus of the 2008 documentary – Architects Herzog and de Meuron: Alchemy of Building & Tate Modern. The current layout of the gallery is Material Gestures (level 3), Poetry and Dream (level 3), Energy and Process (level 5) and States of Flux (level 5).

Museu da Electricidade, Lisbon


Image by Osvaldo Gago

Housed in the former Tejo Power Station, Lisbon’s Museu da Electricidade is a landmark building located in the historic Belem district. The coal-burning power station replaced the smaller Junqueira plant (built on the same site in 1908) in 1919 and operated until 1976. The building now houses a permanent exhibition, including components of the original thermoelectric equipment. There are also exhibits focussing on renewable energy, the scientists involved in the development of electricity, interactive displays and, by the look of the photo below, a pretty swanky restaurant!

Image by reinvented

Image by reinvented



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