LONDON (CNN) -

Ever since it appeared on the cover of Animals, Pink Floyd's 1977 album, Battersea Power Station in London has been famous around the world.

It has appeared in everything from the Beatles' 1965 movie Help! to Christopher Nolan's 2008 Batman movie The Dark Knight, and even Dr Who.

But later this year, its distinctive chimneys -- the best-loved parts of one of London's best-loved buildings -- will be demolished.

Then they will be built back up again.

"The chimneys are the most powerful part of the icon," says Jim Eyre, director of Wilkinson Eyre, the architects commissioned to develop the building.

"Take them away, and you don't have an icon. The coal fumes has decayed the concrete, so they have to come down. But we're going to painstakingly reconstruct them."

Such will be the attention to detail that even the paint used will be precisely the same hue.

And it will be sourced from the same manufacturer that provided the paint for the original chimneys, more than 80 years ago.

The replacement of the chimneys is just the first stage in a development that will change Battersea Power Station forever, arousing a passionate debate.

A London Icon

The power station was built in the Thirties as a functioning coal-fired electricity generator. But the building was so distinctive that it became recognized as a valuable part of the cityscape.

The station stopped functioning in 1983, and has since fallen into disrepair.

It's vast -- St Paul's Cathedral, another of London's landmarks, could snugly fit into its old turbine rooms -- and over the years it has acquired the status of one of the architectural world's best-known white elephants.

Now, funded by Malaysian developers, work is underway to transform the building into a massive complex of retail space, offices, and luxury "villas".

Crowning the top of the development, at a height of more than 160 feet, there will be a roof garden.

The first phase will be completed in 2016.

Eyre's plans for the chimneys are emblematic of his approach towards developing the site.

"Two of them are still going to be used as flues for the massive, modern energy center that we're going to construct to power the place," he says.

"The third will remain hollow with a glass roof, and the fourth will house a cylindrical glass elevator that will pop out at the top at a viewing platform."

Although the massive central cavity will be split into five floors and stuffed with stores and offices, Eyre has included several areas where a "cut-out" will allow a glimpse of the distant ceiling.

"There was a temptation to fill it right to the edges," he says.

"But when you enter the building, there will be an opening into a big space that will preserve the stunning sense of volume."

Care will be taken to protect a flavor of the past on the inside, too.

In an approach that Eyre calls "light renovation", graffiti and the stains of age will not be scrubbed clean or painted over.

"As part of the development, the building will be surrounded by massive modern office and retail blocks," he says.