Alternative Histories: Witherford Watson Mann on Cedric Price

Witherford Watson Mann, Cedric Price’s sketch perspective for BatHat Battersea Power Station, 2018. Plaster, brass, copper, wood, aluminium, 370 × 240 × 660 mm.
Cedric Price (1934–2003), Battersea Power Station, c.1990. Red pen and coloured crayon on sketchbook sheet, 203 × 253 mm. DMC 1092.

—–Original Message—–
From: William Mann
Sent: 17 January 2019 19:22
Cc: Stephen Witherford; William Mann; Philippa Battye
Subject: Bathat

Dear Cedric,

We tried to reach you by phone but gather you are still in East Grinstead. So we are sending some drawings instead, hope you are able to open the files ok.

There are a number of issues we wanted to get your views on, in particular the theatre and the ‘chimney room’, but also proposals for the sports pitch and the floor.

– Theatre: the Festival Trust are very insistent about the horseshoe balcony, there are various advantages in terms of acoustics and contact between audience and performers. Our feeling was that the whole thing is big enough and ugly enough to tolerate a bit of old school theatrical intimacy. At least they’re not suggesting gilt and mirrors (yet…). If our budget is eroded any more it’ll be no seats and cushions on the floor – which mightn’t be the worst thing.
– The main question in terms of the ‘chimney room’ seems to be its relation to the stair and lifts which sensibly belong in that corner. We’re proposing that the stair tacks off on the level below, to give it a wider berth. What do you think?
– In terms of the sports pitch, we’ve sketched out a new enclosure, based on something Philippa cycled past when she was in Spain (yes, really). We think it’s quite elegant, do you? In any case, we certainly share your view that the previous version was very clunky.
– The contractors have done a sample of the asphalt, which feels like it’s pretty much what we discussed – quite oily and beachy – like a river bank with a carboniferous slick. They want you to sign it off before they go any further – when do you think you can make it up to site?

The residents have started moving in to the new flats, and have already started complaining about the rehearsals and public access warm-up events. Having been promised spectacular views and with heavy implications of exclusivity in the marketing CGIs, their anxieties are on the rise about their towering (read overlooking?) neighbour. You’d think no one told them about Bathat before they bought. One very large net curtain should do the job – it’s just a question where it goes…

We have tested all the above in the model, which we hope you find encouraging, if you can tear yourself away from EG to come and see us. In the meantime, we attach a slightly blurry photo.

Looking forward to hearing what you think.

Best regards,
Stephen, Chris and William

Battersea Power Station: Leonard Pearce, J . Theo Halliday, Giles Gilbert Scott
Bathat: Cedric Price
Battersea masterplan: Rafael Viñoly Architects
Bathat public realm and new theatre: Witherford Watson Mann Architects
Model: Philippa Battye and Witherford Watson Mann Architects