Friday, 17 June 2011
A White Elephant?
The Elephant and Castle shopping centre is well known from the outside, sitting as it does at the centre of a massive traffic and rail complex where you enter central London from the south. The place is notorious: in an area bombed flat in WW2 and redeveloped in 1965, this was the biggest American-style indoor shopping mall in Europe when it was completed, and began to fail almost immediately when it became clear that it was far too big. From the beginning it was impossible to let all the retail spaces and the three-storey structure, topped by the glass-and-steel Hannibal Tower office block, has been a problem area ever since. Despite which - people clearly still do use the place, pass through, shop and work there.
Another survival from the past, with something to appreciate before it goes, but also a lot that will not be missed. Southwark Council have been negotiating a 15 year redevelopment programme with architects Make appointed to design the masterplan. In May they abandoned plans to demolish the shopping centre, in favour of a more pragmatic refurbishment strategy - which is bound to antagonise those who hoped to see the big shopping mall replaced by a more permeable new development.
To find out more:
Information about Elephant and Castle regeneration at Southwark Council website
Images of a refurbished shopping centre on the AJ website