Battersea Power Station

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The train eventually pulls out of Victoria, half an hour late and well after 9pm. It stops often, presumably for signals. I look up from my book at one stop and see the gigantic building project that is or was Battersea Power Station, bathed in setting sunlight.

I was a small child when I first saw the power station and I still remember being impressed by its sheer weight in the cityscape and the stark simplicity of its chimneys and huge, straight walls. It was still in operation then, smoke lazily coming from the iconic chimneys, but for most of the times that I have seen it, from trains in and out of Victoria Station, and while living in Chelsea for a year, it has been empty and without purpose. Pink Floyd floating a huge pink pig above it somehow seemed appropriate.

Like much of London along the Thames it is being redeveloped, with even more concrete and steel being used to clothe it with glass and light. At the moment, the more or less finished glass shells by the river look like so much identikit construction that could be expensive offices, smart flats or both. The glass walls and concrete floors create large rectangular spaces that are given character and meaning only by what is inside.

The middle of the site is floors and columns, waiting to be sheathed and the southern end is full of imposing concrete lift-shafts going nowhere.

The train moved on.

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