Late last year, the BECK team was delighted to deliver a successful fit-out of the Lift 109 visitor experience for the Battersea Power Station Development Company.
The historic Power Station reopened in October 2022 after a decade long renovation project which saw it transform from a disused power station to a new community of shops, restaurants, entertainment venues, offices, a visitor experience, homes and green spaces.
Construction on Battersea A Power Station first began in 1929 but it was four years before the first two chimneys were constructed and electricity was generated. By 1955 the power demands of the city had increased, and the next phase of works for Battersea B were completed, which saw the last two of the iconic chimneys constructed. The station continued to serve the city for almost three decades until decreased output due to age and increasing operating costs proved too difficult to overcome. The A station ceased to operate in 1975, followed by the B station in 1983.
The regeneration project for the building began in 2012 to convert the site into residential units, shops, bars, restaurants, entertainment venues, offices and a visitor experience.
BECK was the principal contractor responsible for the fit-out of the Lift 109 visitor experience and worked with designers Ralph Appelbaum Associates and Fraser Randall as part of the client team.
In April 2022, we began works on site to convert part of Turbine Hall A. The scope of works included the creation of the new media space, retail and back of house areas. New flooring, bespoke joinery and metal work incorporating MEP and AV equipment. Grade II listed heritage features were carefully preserved, including the original Busbars for high current power distribution, which were shot blasted and re-finished.
Logistics were key on the project due to the building’s vast scale. The team had to negotiate stringent delivery policies, including multiple contractors all sharing the same loading bays to bring large scale items on site. In addition, some of the installation works required working at more than 30m above floor level which required specialist lifting equipment and abseiling experts.
The journey of the experience begins in the beautiful Art Deco Turbine Hall A, with an interactive media experience of original records and displays detailing the rich history and architectural significance of the building. A photo booth allows visitors to take pictures with the iconic power station as the backdrop. A spectacular, interactive chandelier commissioned by BECK is suspended from the ceiling with eight rings of lights at varying angles.
The chandelier links with a custom-made, multi-touch table directly underneath. This allows visitors to engage in an interactive game where they generate varying degrees of power to trigger the lighting above.
The historical importance of the building meant strict guidelines were in place regarding fixing into the fabric of the building. An original steel roof truss had been restored and was required to remain as visible as possible. This meant our chandelier had to be hung from the very top section of the roof truss, Whilst the body of the chandelier itself needed to sit beneath the original structure.
The team designed a bespoke steel grid to be attached into the roof structure. This was fixed as high as possible, with a series of steel cables. The grid avoided the original steel truss, pipes and lighting, to then connect to the chandelier feature at a lower level. Each of the eight rings of the chandelier were hung from their own set of cables, creating challenging logistical constraints during installation.
Visitors board London’s brand-new glass elevator which journeys 109 metres above sea level, to the top of the Northwest chimney. Constellations of light guide the way as the lift ascends and 360-degree panoramic views of the city can be enjoyed at the top. The Lift 109 experience concludes with a visit to the curated shop.
The greatest challenge faced by the team surrounded integration into the historical fabric of the building. This included new HVAC and fire life safety systems. Consultation with the Architectural and Heritage Teams was extremely important throughout the design, construction and installation phases of the project.
The space housing a large amount of media equipment required cooling, while two large ducts passed through the area to supply an adjacent unit. Beams supporting the floor above were also a consideration.
We were unable to connect to the existing ducting and ordinarily would look to install fan coil units to cool the space. Unfortunately, due to the lack of space and size of the units required, this meant they could not be ceiling mounted.
Our calculations revealed two fan coil units would be required, plus an MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery) system which would exchange the warm air generated by the media equipment, with the cooler air from the shopping mall.
A section of wall remaining as exposed brickwork was big enough to fit a wall mounted vertical fan coil unit, so the team mounted one of the fan coil units here and built a wall in front to hide it. The unit could not be fixed directly to heritage brickwork, so a support frame was built.
Enough room in the kitchen area allowed us to install the second unit. The MVHR was then mounted in the ceiling void of the media space, with the ducting routed to the exterior walls of the CLE. Grilles were incorporated into the perforated panel detail above the main door, so it could blend into the finishes.
The main door design then presented a challenge due to the size and weight of the door. It was essential to find a motor powerful enough to move the door whilst remaining quiet and using minimal power.
After consulting with a specialist, it was determined that a hydraulic motor would be the best option. This gave us more control and allowed us to tailor the speed and distance in which the door moved. The client also wanted to control the door from a tablet computer and with the help of our AV contractor, we were able to make this happen.
The finished project delivered a beautiful new media space of curated original records with modern multimedia displays. The lift itself ascends to the top of the iconic Northwest chimney for an unparalleled panoramic view. The retail space and back of house areas were finished to the highest standard. All works paid great respect to the historical importance and period features of the building.
Speaking about our works at such a historically important building in London, Chris Lawrenson, Director at BECK said: “We were hugely privileged to have been selected to undertake works at this iconic landmark. The programme and logistical constraints were extremely challenging. However, by working closely with Battersea Power Station Development Authority, and Fraser Randall we were able to successfully deliver the wonderful design, expertly visualised and created by Ralph Appelbaum Associates. I would encourage everyone to pay a visit to the development. The heritage of the building is something to behold and to top it off with a 360-degree view from 109 metres high is a special experience.”