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Battersea Power is now on the Buildings at Risk register, so Dazeley, one of London’s top Advertising Photographers, decided it was time to photograph and record this architectural icon in its sad state of decline, prior to planning application and the latest regeneration project due to start this year. It is a well known London landmark on the River Thames and also famous for being on the Pink Floyd’s 1977 ‘Animals’ album cover. ‘It seems so sad that such a magnificent building has ended up in its present state; and the series of photographs give a taste of its former splendour,’ comments Dazeley.
Q: Given that the power station is part of your personal landscape, maybe your personal space. What would you say made you decide to photograph it?
A: As an advertising photographer, I spend a lot of time interpreting clients’ briefs; but I also spend a lot of time doing personal projects. Having lived in an apartment on the river between Vauxhall and Chelsea Bridges, overlooking Battersea Power Station I have, for many years, watched the slow process of dilapidation as it is passed from one developer to another. So in July 2010, I thought the time had arrived to do a personal project to record the state of Battersea Power Station. After many months of negotiation with the developers, I finally got access to the site, and its architectural marvels.
Q:Were you given access to all areas in the station and were you questioned as to your motives? Were any restrictions placed on your movements and what you could photograph?
A: I was pretty much given access to the whole site, and was given a security/health and safety officer who stayed with us. My crew and I all had to wear safety helmets, safety boots and visibility vests. There are areas of the site that we couldn’t get to because they were dangerous, also quite a few of the floors had been removed. So, for example, to get to one of the control rooms we had to walk over a temporarily erected bridge.
Q: Were you aware of any emotional atmosphere within the building?
A: I feel so sad and wonder how the authorities have allowed this magnificent Grade II listed building to get into such a state of disrepair. It is so difficult to visualise what the power station would have looked like when it was functioning. The whole of the middle of the power station has completely disappeared, including the roof.
Q:Do you feel the present proposal to return the station to producing power from waste is realistic?
A: This is a completely new idea to me. Over the years every plan I have seen is about turning the power station into riverside apartments, shops, offices, restaurants, cinemas etc. This is, I imagine, the only way a developer will get a return on their investment.
Q: What would you like to see done with the site?
A: I realise it is unrealistic and impossible, but in an ideal world the outside of building should be put back as it was, but the interior changed and used for community, leisure activities and to bring life back into this part of Battersea.
Q: Are you concerned for any other threatened buildings?
A: Yes, but I feel that we do have a trend now to wrap buildings up in aspic, far too much. I feel that buildings should be allowed to evolve, Tate Modern is the most wonderful example of an old building being turned into a brilliant space for everyone to benefit from. If you, as a private individual in a listed house, even so much as changed your windows, the whole force of the law comes down on you. Yet Battersea Power Station has been ripped to pieces and nobody appears to be accountable in anyway. If the building is left continually in this state, the likelihood is that it will have to be pulled down. The costs of putting it back together must rapidly be becoming unrealistic.
This interview accompanies an article about the risk to Battersea Power Station if the present neglect continues. To read the article click here.