The choice has to be Battersea Power Station, not least because there are so many views of it: as you travel around London it’s forever turning up, expectedly or unexpectedly, at varying distances, looking when afar like a great steamship ploughing its way through the buildings and the trees. One of the best viewpoints allows you to lean on the wall overlooking the north side of the river a hundred yards or so to the west of Chelsea Bridge. A nice thing about this view is the foreground provided by the wide arches of the railway bridge, the movement of the trains (sliding into and out of Victoria) above and the barges just below you. Another is that, when you turn your back on the view, you’re face to face with the Western Pumping Station across the street and its campanile-like tower.
Battersea Power Station is distressing if you focus on its hull with all its evidence of casual demolition. You wonder hopelessly how governments can let their heritage slip away, but the power of what remains doesn’t take long to lift you from the dilapidation and make you concentrate on the four corners, where the chimneys, endlessly changing colour between cream and grey without ever being quite white, issue from their chunky stepped plinths, the colour of the bricks ranging, through a mixture of short-term effects of light and long-term effects of weather, across any number of different shades of grey and brown. What is constant is the drama of the contrast between the lightness of the cylindrical forms above and the darkness of the cubic ones below, a contrast that becomes strangely sensual where the light and dark touch.