By Nurul Hanis Izmir
LONDON, Oct 14 (Bernama) -- Malaysia Square, a public square south of the Battersea Power Station here, on Friday morning witnessed the official countdown to the reopening of the world-renowned landmark to the public following a transformational eight-year restoration project.
In conjunction with the opening of the square to the public, the Battersea Power Station Choir performed “Wau Bulan”, a folk song from the Malaysian east coast state of Kelantan, to entertain the crowd.
The performance generated much excitement among those present, especially Malaysian media members, who joined the choir in singing the classic upbeat song about kite flying.
At the same time, Malaysian correspondents based in the United Kingdom (UK), overwhelmed with nostalgia, took a moment to reminisce about their hometowns.
Many different feelings were running through members of the Malaysian media present, but one prevalent feeling was that of pride.
“Many said it was impossible. Several tried and failed. However, through the commitment of our shareholders, and with the support of many public and private sector stakeholders in the UK, we’ve succeeded in bringing Battersea Power Station back to life so that it can be enjoyed for generations to come,” Battersea Power Station Development Company (BPSDC) chief executive officer Simon Murphy said.
Malaysian consortium brings the power back
The Battersea Power Station development is owned by a consortium of Malaysian investors comprised of SP Setia (40 per cent), Sime Darby Property (40 per cent) and the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) (20 per cent), with the commercial assets within the Power Station building now being directly owned by Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) and EPF.
The £9 billion (£1=RM5.31) regeneration project is seeing the creation of a vibrant, mixed-use destination offering a community of homes, shops, restaurants, offices, culture and leisure venues, as well as 7.689 hectares of public space, all serviced by an extension to the London Underground’s Northern Line.
A new National Health Service (NHS) medical facility is also being built for the location.
Battersea Power Station is listed as a Grade II* building, meaning that it is a building with historical or architectural significance that every effort should be made to preserve them.
The project covers 16.99 hectares (42 acres) and includes 3.5 million sq ft of mixed commercial space and over 4,000 new homes.
The successful regeneration of Battersea Power Station will create 17,000 new jobs, generating long-term career opportunities for local residents.
Murphy said the project is divided into seven phases, with each designed by a range of specialist architects, including Simpson Haugh and Partners and De Rijke Marsh Morgan in Circus West Village (Phase 1), WilkinsonEyre in Battersea Power Station (Phase 2), and Foster + Partners and Gehry Partners in Electric Boulevard, which is made up of Battersea Roof Gardens and Prospect Place (Phase 3).
Construction work officially began with Phase 1 on July 4, 2013, which marked the 80th anniversary of the historic building first generating power. Electric Boulevard, a pedestrianised high street in Phase 3 of the development, is also opened Friday (Oct 14).
“The last few years have not been easy, and there was disruption – the COVID-19 pandemic. But going forward, we still got another 40 per cent, about 6.87 hectares, to develop.
“So we will roughly need at least another 10 years to develop the remaining area amid the current economic uncertainty.
“We have got to be flexible, planning to develop what the market wants (while maintaining the building’s industrial heritage,” Murphy said.
PNB president and group chief executive Ahmad Zulqarnain Onn said the Malaysian partners in this project are keenly aware of this power station’s special place and meaning in the hearts of all Londoners.
“The preservation of the building’s industrial past, of its heritage and of its history, has been a key factor in how it has been restored,” he said.
Concerning Battersea’s future developments, Murphy said BPSDC intends to maintain the current mix of uses.
“It will always be a mix of commercial and residential. It is 50 per cent residential and 50 per cent commercial (retail, food and beverages, leisure, offices, and NHS).
“We will maintain a similar balance at the end of the journey,” he said, adding that a lot of brands want to be associated with Battersea Power Station and to date, 95 per cent of the commercial sites have been taken up.
He also said that Apple has taken 500,000 sq ft of office space, six floors, inside the boiler house, and the technology company is moving its employees into the iconic building in early 2023.
Besides that, there will be British and international brands opening new stores there, including brands like Nike, Mulberry, Theory, Lacoste, Ralph Lauren, Aesop, Space NK, Hugo Boss, Jo Malone London, Uniqlo and Mango.
Electric Boulevard, a new high street to the south of the Power Station, also opened on the same day with the likes of high street favourites such as ZARA and ZARA Home. A new-concept M&S Foodhall will follow shortly, along with the UK’s first art’otel, a 164-room hotel with a Michelin-starred chef, Henrique Sa Pessoa, running its new restaurant, JOIA.
Royal Selangor is the first Malaysian brand to set up its establishment in Battersea, followed by Sugen Gopal’s Roti King.
Six million bricks were used to construct the Battersea Power Station, making it one of the largest brick buildings in Europe. As part of the restoration, 1.75 million bricks were ordered from the original brickmakers.
The power station’s four chimneys were rebuilt to the original specifications from the 1930s and 1950s, with 25,000 wheelbarrows of hand-poured concrete and 375 litres of paint needed for each chimney. When the power station opens its door to the public, it will have been 14,228 days since the building stopped generating electricity.
The iconic building made its appearance on the cover of Pink Floyd’s seminal 1977 album, Animals, with a massive inflatable pig flying over the Battersea Power Station.
It also became a filming location for major productions such as “The Dark Knight”, “Children of Men” and “The King’s Speech”.
De.Wan 1958 in London? More Malaysian brands coming
Battersea Project Holding Company chairman Datuk Jagan Sabapathy said that company is currently in talks to bring in more Malaysian brands there.
“I received a suggestion to bring over De.Wan 1958 by Chef Wan, and I texted him last night. He replied that he would come and take a look!”
The De.Wan restaurant presents the experience of a modern Malaysian culinary adventure brought by multiple award-winning chef Datuk Redzuawan Ismail, better known as Chef Wan.
Commenting on the Malaysian Square, Jagan said it would be used to promote tourism and Malaysian events.
“The Malaysia Square was envisaged as a place where we would demonstrate the Malaysian spirit. The spirit of Malaysia is very inclusive, given our multicultural society.
“We have been talking to the High Commissioner to host events here, and we have also been talking to Tourism Malaysia to bring in cultural elements and, of course, Malaysia Airlines,” he added.
It seems clear that the consortium is here to stay to further develop the Battersea Power Station as a new cultural destination for locals and visitors globally while at the same time creating significant value for the stakeholders.
Earlier in the week, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah officiated the opening ceremony of the Battersea Power Station.
In his remarks at the ceremony, PNB president and group chief executive Ahmad Zulqarnain Onn recited the following poem:
“Tikar jerami bercorak sauh, Diikat-ikat anak nelayan, Bertandang kami ke tempat yang jauh, Tekad dan muafakat resepi kejayaan.” (“Straw mats adorned with anchor pattern/ Woven by fishermen’s children/ In a distant land we have sojourned/ Victorious through tenacity and cooperation.”)
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