24 August 2011

Sir Giles Gilbert Who?

Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and his work deserve to be widely known, and properly appreciated. As previously documented by YMGW, Scott designed that British icon, the red K6 telephone box, and its older and bigger brother the K2. The K6s have generally been poorly cared for since British Telecom came into being, and many have been ripped out and melted down.

Scott's Battersea Power Station, actually two stations appearing to be a single building, the first built in the 1930s, was decommissioned in 1983, ever since when it has stood derelict. Despite being Europe's largest brick building and boasting a fine Art Deco interior, it has been left to rot. So Bankside Power Station, commenced in the late 1940s, completed in 1963, and closed in 1981, should be widely understood to be by Scott, having had over £130m lavished on it to provide a home, since 2000, for Tate Modern?

Tate Modern is home to some fine artists - Warhol, Rodin, Frampton, Picasso, Bacon, Kandinsky, Giacometti. And to much derivative and pointless dross, which many, mediating their experience through a camera lens and headset, are told is art and to admire it. Each artist has a monograph in the gallery's shop. Yet there is nothing on Scott's building or, indeed, any of Scott's architecture. A disgrace.

Bankside, last visited in early 1995 prior to removal of the generating plant, was redesigned by Swiss firm Herzog and de Meuron. The turbine hall, a massive 500 feet long and 115 feet high, was retained as a largely empty void. The boiler house to its side was converted into the galleries, on three levels. A two-storey glass penthouse, 'the lightbeam,' runs the length of the building. Oddly, despite all the dramatic circulation space, service areas are cramped. But Scott's design is respected, and the galleries are very fine.


abijsmith said...

Fort Dunlop is also amazing. Surely it's a coincidence that the architects are both Scotts?

YMGW said...

Fort Dunlop, built in the 1920s, was designed by Stott and Gibbings. It is indeed an amazing building, which makes it rather a shame that it has been redeveloped as mere offices and retail space