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News catch-up: Grimshaw’s Battersea Tube stations open

Words:
Simon Aldous

Two new Tube stops for London as Grimshaw’s Battersea stations come on line, and the RIBA announces Norman Foster as Stirling jury chair. Plus celebrations for Chipperfield who returns to profit, and Brick by Brick’s Chloë Phelps who has set up her own practice

  • Inside Battersea Power Station Tube station, designed by Grimshaw.
    Inside Battersea Power Station Tube station, designed by Grimshaw. Credit: Nour Kasem
  • Battersea Power Station is one of two new stations on the extension to the Northern Line.
    Battersea Power Station is one of two new stations on the extension to the Northern Line. Credit: Nour Kasem
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With minimal fanfare beforehand, the latest two additions to the London Underground network opened last week as two stations designed by Grimshaw became operational.

The stations – Battersea Power Station and Nine Elms – form a £1.26 billion extension of the Northern Line with trains running to Kennington and then along the Charing Cross branch, whose stations include Leicester Square and Tottenham Court Road.

They are the first new Tube stations since the Jubilee Line Extension in 1999, where stations were designed by a range of leading architects including Foster + Partners, Will Alsop and Hopkins, largely to critical acclaim.

Grimshaw, meanwhile, recently made its mark on London’s transport infrastructure with its major reworking of London Bridge station, which completed in 2018 and was shortlisted for the 2019 Stirling Prize. 

The Battersea extension has been built to service the major new developments under construction in the area, notably the £9 billion redevelopment of Battersea Power Station. It has been largely financed by fees levied on the developers as well as increased business rates.

The station at Battersea is intended as a ‘landmark structure’ and includes a gold-painted roof with a giant skylight and precast concrete cladding featuring stripes to echo the form of the power station’s iconic chimneys.

Its spacious ticket hall features an artwork, Sunset, Sunrise, Sunset, a 150m-wide ever-changing kinetic sculpture by Brazilian artist Alexandre da Cunha.

Construction work on the extension began in 2015 and has managed to complete on schedule. This compares favourably with the considerably more ambitious Crossrail, which runs east to west across London and beyond. Its construction began in 2009 and it was meant to open in autumn 2018 – a date that has been repeatedly delayed with next spring the current target.

 

Norman Foster to chair Stirling Prize jury

In what looks like an impressive coup, the RIBA has secured the services of one of the UK’s most famous living architects, Norman Foster, to chair the jury for this year’s Stirling Prize. 

Joining him in the judging process will be Annalie Riches, whose practice Mikhail Riches won the prize two years ago, RIBA president Simon Allford and artist Phyllida Barlow, an artist whose sculptural installations have a decidedly architectural quality to them.

The four will now visit each of the six schemes which, while all in England, will involve travelling west to Cornwall to see the Ney & Partners and William Matthews Associates’ Tintagel footbridge; and north to Cumbria for Carmody Groarke’s Windermere Jetty Museum. 

At least they can possibly combine the two Cambridge schemes – Marks Barfield’s mosque and Stanton Williams’ key worker housing – into one trip, while the other two buildings are both in London. 

The four will be joined by SOM associate director Mina Hasman, who will advise on the shortlisted schemes’ sustainability credentials.

While Allford is there as RIBA president it does mean that two of the UK’s largest architectural practices – Foster + Partners and AHMM – are represented. It also means that that the three architects on the jury have all won the prize themselves – AHMM triumphing in 2015 with its Burntwood School, having been shortlisted three times previously.

Foster + Partners meanwhile, has had eight buildings shortlisted for the Stirling over the prize’s 25 years and has won it three times – the only practice to do so. And with two-time winner Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners not in the running this year, Foster won’t be presiding over having this record matched by his former practice partner.

Chipperfield back in the black

Good news for another Stirling laureate, David Chipperfield Architects, which has returned to profit for the first time in three years.

The practice, which won the Stirling in 2007 for its Museum of Modern Literature in Marbach am Neckar, Germany, made a pre-tax profit of £273,000 in 2020 following losses of £550,000 and £1.5 million in 2019 and 2018 respectively. 

Company accounts published last week also show turnover up 17% to £9.7 million and the average number of employees increasing from 79 to 84.

Managing director Harriet Miller said that travel restrictions during the pandemic had encouraged the practice’s use of technology, which had presented new opportunities and helped strengthen international relationships.

Last year, the practice completed a revamp of Mies van der Rohe’s Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin; and a £175 million extension to the Kunsthaus Zurich, making it Switzerland’s largest art gallery.

Among the practice’s current UK projects are its redevelopment of the former US Embassy in Grosvenor Square, London, and a new Chinese embassy next to the Tower of London – a scheme that has proved controversial because of China’s recent human rights records, particularly its treatment of Uyghur Muslims.

 

Brick By Brick architect launches her own practice

As Croydon’s housebuilding company Brick By Brick gradually shuts shop, the founder of its in-house architectural practice has launched a new design studio.

Chloë Phelps was principal of Common Ground Architecture as well as Brick By Brick’s head of design. She left after the council ditched plans to sell the company to developer Urban Splash, choosing instead to wind it down.

In the process, a large number of planned housing developments were scrapped, including six designed by Common Ground.

Phelps will now lead an architecture and urbanism practice whose name, Grounded, is surely a reference to her previous endeavour. The practice’s website features several Common Ground projects and it will be interesting to see if Phelps goes on to recruit any of her previous nine-strong team to the new company.

Grounded has been set up in collaboration with Place Capital Group, a Manchester-based company established last year with the stated purpose of reinvigorating run-down council estates.

As well as offering design services, Grounded’s website advertises management and delivery advice and construction monitoring – providing a design adviser for developers ‘novating a design team’. 

Speaking to the Architects’ Journal, Phelps said she was looking forward to ‘revitalising under-funded housing estates around the country, as well as collaborating with local authorities and private developers to accelerate housing delivery and improve the places where we live, work and play’.

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