EDF lines up big-name architects for new-build programme, but fails to entice the biggest names of all

Britain’s two most celebrated architects have rejected the opportunity to contribute designs to a new generation of nuclear power stations.

It has emerged that the practices of Norman Foster and Richard Rogers have been approached by French energy giant EDF Energy with a view to including them in a framework to design stations. SMC Alsop and Building Design Partnership are also understood to have been approached by EDF, which wants to build at least four stations.

However, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSH+P) declined to tender on ethical grounds. Andrew Morris, the practice’s commercial director, said: “Ethically, we wouldn’t get involved in projects like this. We have a fairly strict constitution set up by Richard [Rogers] which prohibits work on military schemes and power stations.”

It is understood that EDF approached the firm again after its refusal, but was refused a second time.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Foster + Partners said the firm had declined EDF’s invitation for business reasons.

Despite being shunned by Foster and Rogers, EDF’s move will please those who are worried that the UK’s next generation of power stations will be eyesores like Hartlepool and Dungeness.

One architect invited to tender for the framework said: “Power stations used to be designed by great architects such as Giles Gilbert Scott, so why not again?”

Ethically, we wouldn’t get involved in projects like this

Andrew Morris, RSH+P

John McAslan, whose practice is designing a distinctive power station for another French energy firm, GDF Suez, on the Olympic site, welcomed news that EDF was seeking prominent architects.

He said: “There has to be a new generation of energy centres, and I think companies like EDF have realised that involving architects to work on them adds value.”

EDF said it had arranged for presentations to be made by practices to show their capability to work on the project, as well as to gauge their interest in participating in a tender process.

The news emerged in the same week as EDF continued talks to buy the UK’s nuclear power company British Energy.

EDF is understood to have tabled a higher bid than the £12bn it offered in July, which was turned down. British Energy’s board was due to discuss the bid as Building went to press.