Rough-luxe interior design for Battersea Power Station’s new flats

Tim Boyd’s award-winning firm has been chosen to design interiors for Battersea Power Station’s new flats - and reveals plans for dramatic interiors and a "garden in the sky".
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Architectural designer Tim Boyd outside Battersea Power Station. Image: Charlie Forgham-Bailey

This isn’t your normal brown-and-white frothy cappuccino-looking development,” architectural designer Tim Boyd tells me firmly, when I meet him on top of Battersea Power Station. “This is something that is historically relevant, both to the richness of the period and the building.”
 
Today, award-winning west London practice Michaelis Boyd Associates — co-founded by Boyd and business partner Alex Michaelis — is unveiled as residential interior architect and designer for the new homes inside and on top of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s Grade II*-listed masterpiece.
 
Part of the second phase of the £8 billion redevelopment of the Art Deco power station — the largest brick building in Europe — the flats will be within the existing façades of the western and eastern flanks of the building and on top of the central boiler house.
 
In January last year, the launch of Phase One, Circus West, a block of 866 studios, larger apartments, penthouses and townhouses immediately to the west of the power station, sold out in four days, raising more than £600 million. Hopes are even higher for Phase Two, given Londoners’ passion for the iconic building.
 
BLAND IS BANNED
Working closely with specialist heritage architectural practice, Wilkinson Eyre, which is restoring the power station itself, Michaelis Boyd will be responsible for the 254 apartments, which range from studios and duplexes to five-bedroom penthouses. Homes on the roof of the central boiler house will frame a new two and a half-acre “garden in the sky”.
 
This will be no bland international development. At the end of last year when Boyd and Michaelis flew to Kuala Lumpur to present their pitch to the shareholders of the Malaysian consortium that owns the building, their initial design concepts “sold it every much as a British thing”.

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Tim Boyd’s firm, Michaelis Boyd Associates, has been involved in projects such as the starkly industrial Soho House 
 
No plans are available yet but Boyd shows me photos of their previous projects — homes with exposed brickwork, timber floors with a slightly antiqued surface, and simple theatre-style kitchen and dining areas with solid oak shelving and worktops. He is particularly relishing building beautiful staircases in the double-height duplexes. “You can have a lot of fun and get real glamour into the space.”
 
Will he be adventurous with colour? “The colour will be in the materials used rather than in paint colours,” he admits. “The full detail of the staircases are not yet finalised but they will be very striking and may well use some bold colours.”
 
INSPIRED BY HERITAGE
The emphasis will be on craftsmanship with a twist, combining a raw industrial edge with gorgeous tactile materials — big free-standing copper baths, handmade tiles, bronze hand rails. He admits it has sometimes been a challenge to explain this rough-luxe aesthetic to contractors. But the building remains the chief source of inspiration.
 
“There’s so much to draw on here in terms of architectural elements, such as these great windows, so we wanted to use a lot of Crittall glass and metal screens within the flats, not highly polished but with that industrial heritage. They’re unusual, something you’d see in somebody’s house rather than bland development flats. And I think that is what we are trying to bring to it, that sort of personal touch. Another idea was to ask people like Paul Smith and Tom Dixon to come in and brand something that could become part of the building,” Boyd recalls.

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The exposed bricks and steel staircase of this Chelsea home are the kind of design likely to feature in new homes on the power station roof
 
The job represents a major commission for the 55-strong practice, which has a reputation for designing sleek urban watering holes. Past projects include the restoration of Notting Hill’s Electric Cinema, Babington House country house hotel in Somerset, Soho House private members clubs in LA and Berlin, and Tom Aikens’s Tom’s Kitchen restaurants in London and Istanbul. Prospective purchasers will be invited to visit a rooftop marketing suite designed by Michaelis Boyd, where they can review room “concepts” including materials, fixtures and fittings.
 
A TOWN SQUARE ON THE ROOF
Prices of the apartments will not be revealed until next month, but homes in the first phase, Circus West, ranged from £350,000 for a studio to £6 million for a penthouse. Boyd is bowled over by the diversity on offer.
 
“It’s all done to a phenomenal standard. Incrementally you get more toys the more you’re spending, but the actual base is fantastic for all of them. If you are buying a penthouse you are buying a flat with beautiful floors, but it’s the same if you buy a studio.”
 
The joy of the building, he says, is it offers so many different views and locations. “With the boiler house, you’re in a new-build sitting on top of the building, within a private landscape of gardens and greenery. You’re building a town square on top of the roof.” If you go for a flat within the existing fabric of the annexes, Turbine East or Turbine West, then, he enthuses, “you get wonderful brickwork and original steelwork”.
 
Apartments — about 110 are bespoke — have been designed around the huge windows. At 1,400sq ft, they are almost double the size of most flats that come on the market in London. Each wing will have its own geography, with different corridors and front doors for the Turbine Halls and the Boiler House. “We wanted to define everybody’s space as much as possible,” says Boyd. “It’ll be like you’re in a house in Notting Hill or Chelsea or Belgravia.
 
“To actually bring that richness of the streetscape into the building will create interesting environments to walk down. We’re bringing light, we’re bringing moments of pause into them, so they become beautiful experiences in themselves.”

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Bare bricks also feature in this bathroom for a house in Chelsea
 
Married to Costa-winning novelist Sadie Jones, father-of-two Boyd says his favourite buildings include New York’s Guggenheim Museum, Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye outside Paris and Peter Zumthor’s Bruder Klaus Chapel in Cologne, all of which may give some flavour of the designs for Battersea.
 
The biggest Battersea challenge has been drainage, he says. “It’s such a complex building and there’s so many different types. Technical issues such as soundproofing and heat loss are relatively easy to manage. The challenge is working around the existing fabric. You can end up with a column in completely the wrong place — but that column has to stay.”
 
Phase Two properties launch on-site on May 1 and prospective buyers should register their interest now at batterseapowerstation.co.uk or by calling 020 7501 0678.

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