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How Sir Giles Gilbert Scott left an indelible mark on London — and how that infuriated his critics


Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s designs shaped London as we know it — but despite his famed ‘unruffled serenity’, not all of his creations were met with rapt enthusiasm. Carla Passino takes a look.

The iconic chimneys of Battersea Power Station.

Dignified, almost stately, the Battersea Power Station holds court on the south bank of the River Thames, the stocky panels of the nearby buildings deferring like a respectful retinue to the fluted chimneys that soar like columns of a long-lost Greek temple above the ziggurat of the Boiler House. The plump pig that flew against the station’s black smoke on the cover of the Pink Floyd’s 1977 album Animals may have given way to a crown of steel and glass, but the Grade II*-listed power station remains a much-loved symbol of London. Quite a feat for a place that had originally sparked protests for fear it would be an eyesore.

The man behind this remarkable shift in perception was Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, who turned the building’s lumbering bulk into a functional take on a medieval cathedral. He had once said that he couldn’t understand the prejudice against electricity stations, as they could be made quite magnificent; it’s fair to say he was proven right, both at…

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