In pictures: Digital Placemaking and Heritage at Battersea Power Station


4 minute read
Jo Morrison

Jo Morrison

Director of Digital Innovation & Research

Digital Placemaking

Arts & Culture

When Battersea Power Station opened in 1933, London’s first ‘super station’ on the Thames was an immediate London icon. The unique and distinctive chimneys stretched toward the sky, each a pillar to the ingenuity of the designers and architects that developed the site.

Battersea was more than just cutting-edge design though, it played a vital role in providing energy to the nation’s capital for 50 years, through both wartime and peace.

When the decommissioned site was bought by developers some thirty years after it closed it was therefore crucial that their regeneration project kept one eye on the past when developing for future generations.

We’re incredibly proud to play our part in bringing the history of this landmark to life with the Battersea Power Station Heritage Trail.

To mark the launch of the Heritage Trail App at the London Festival of Architecture on June 7th, Calvium and the Battersea Power Station team hosted a breakfast discussion panel to explore how digital placemaking can make our shared urban spaces more liveable. We wanted to explore how technology is changing the way people explore places and why Battersea Power Station created a heritage trail to celebrate the site’s unique identity.

The guests then had the opportunity to join us on an enhanced practitioners’ tour of the Battersea Power Station Heritage Trail. The images below capture a snapshot of the morning.

If you want to know more about the practice itself, read our comprehensive guide on digital placemaking here.

Huge thanks to Johnny Stephens Photography for the images.


Battersea project networking

The event brought together professionals from a wealth of sectors, including: architecture, construction and engineering, real estate development, regeneration, higher education, government agencies, technology, cultural heritage and more… All attendees were keen to expand their understanding of how digital placemaking can help develop successful public spaces, now and in the future.

Battersea project - forging connections

New connections were forged and existing ones strengthened, over croissants, coffee and cherry pastries a-plenty.

Battersea project - panel discussion

Moderated by Dr. Jo Morrison from Calvium, the panel featured Battersea Power Station’s Placemaking Director, Miranda Kimball, and Calvium’s MD, Jo Reid. Over the course of 30 minutes, we discussed the placemaking strategy for Battersea Power Station, the functionality of the Heritage Trail App itself, the user-centred nature of the app, the co-creation process of ideation and design and the future plans for digital placemaking at the redevelopment site.

Battersea project - panel close up

Jo Reid explained that digital placemaking focuses on the creation of bespoke location-specific digital services, products and experiences to make places more attractive destinations. She highlighted Calvium’s four pillars of successful digital placemaking and described their relevance across the lifecycle of large scale urban developments – such as Battersea Power Station.

Battersea project - practitioners tour start

After the panel discussion, guests were invited to join the panelists on a unique ‘practitioners’ tour’ where Jo Reid, Miranda and Calvium’s UX specialist, Kieron Gurner, provided key insights into the design and development of the Heritage Trail.

Battersea project - practitioners tour 2

To stimulate reflection about placemaking, Kieron introduced the practitioners’ tour by inviting the guests to share with one another how the places with which they are engaged are undergoing change.

Battersea project - practitioners tour 3

In front of the iconic structure, the guests heard about the architectural history of the location, interwoven with other accounts of the site’s heritage and identity.

Battersea project - directors door

The final point of the practitioners’ tour enabled the guests to experience the bespoke Augmented Reality feature. By pointing their phones at the printed poster of an Art Deco ‘Director’s Door’, the door opened and guests were able to view and move around a 3D model of the celebrated control room A, that otherwise would remain hidden.

Battersea project - directors door 2

This ‘magic moment’ was a fitting conclusion to the event as it showed how the bespoke, creative and judicious use of digital technologies can truly enhance people’s connection with a place – and do so in surprising, social and entertaining ways.

Battersea project - directors door 3

As was demonstrated at Battersea Power Station, digital placemaking represents a key strategic opportunity for those working in the urban development, regeneration and heritage sectors. It offers a range of powerful opportunities to add value to public spaces, in ways which can translate into economic growth, cultural prosperity and improved lives for local communities.

To find out more about the development of the Heritage Trail App, you can check out our in-depth case study here. And to read more on digital placemaking, check out our comprehensive study on the practice and what it means for developers, heritage sites and local government.

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