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Cosmetic Homicide

Written by Thomas Büsch on . Posted in Urban Chant

The Death of Battersea Power Station in London seen by Bradley Garrett

I stopped by Battersea Power Station this afternoon after the developers had finally begun to chip at the chimneys. On the side of the building, there was some new signage promising, as property owners are prone to do, that the future architectural simulation and simulacra envisioned on this choice riverfront real estate will retain an essence of place. Architectural homicide under the scalpel of cosmetic improvement almost always follows these sorts of proclamations.


‘Spot the difference’ the banner tells us. But is it ‘spotting’  the difference that we should be concerned about? Or should we be more concerned whether we will feel the difference? Will Self recently posed a similar question to the head of English Heritage at the opening the the new Stonehenge visitor centre. As usual, this is a question of context. And zooming out, the context of this ‘redevelopment’ is pretty clear – BPS is flanked by lifeless waterfront apartments owned by foreign investors and yuppies too exhausted from being whipped at work to enjoy them on one side, and a herd of cranes tearing up the block on the other. We all know how this story ends it’s a fucking flaccid narrative arc.


I moved across the river and hopped a small fence to get another angle on the action. From there you can see, after some aggressive cropping, how Battersea will die by a thousand cuts – see the green netting? Behind that the chimney is being picked to pieces. The cynic in me feels that killing building in this way prevents a single spectacular moment of destruction that can be protested. Not that apathic Londoners ever put up much of a fight anyway.


First published at Bradley Garrett, researcher, explorer, photographer

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