Bjarke Ingels is slated to join elder architectural statesmen Norman Foster and Frank Gehry at the Battersea Power Station in London. The multi-billion dollar, mixed-use redevelopment was originally master planned by, yes, another starchitect, Rafael Viñoly. Ingels’ firm, BIG, joins the bunch after winning a competition to design a public space for the project called Malaysia Square. Why is it called Malaysia Square? Because, lest the Brits forget, the project is backed by a Malaysian development consortium.
BIG’s plan for Malaysia Square goes beyond the name; it takes its form and design from the caves of the country’s Gunung Mulu National Park. The Battersea developers describe the space as a “two-level urban canyon.” To that end, Malaysia Square is clad in limestone, granite, marble, sandstone, gravel, and has dolomite striation. The square’s natural materials are sculpted into a dramatic design, but don’t necessarily make for the most comfortable place to stretch out.
Before unveiling Malaysia Square, London Mayor Boris Johnson addressed criticism that the Battersea Power Station development has too few affordable units and will just be another investment opportunity for wealthy foreigners. (15 percent of the plan is currently “affordable.) “I think 600 affordable homes are better than no affordable homes,” Johnson told the Guardian. “If you didn’t do a deal of this kind you couldn’t get either the transport or the affordable homes so that’s the reality.” The mayor also said that the development comes with two new Tube stations and the first extension of the system in a quarter century