Thursday 3 November 2005 5.48pm
Ever wondered what it was- is it at risk with the new development?
From 2oth Century Society
Michael Faraday Memorial
Elephant and Castle, Lambeth, London SE1
LCC Architects' Department under Rodney Gordon, 1959-61
Listed Grade II
The Michael Faraday Memorial is located in the centre of the North roundabout of the Elephant and Castle gyratory system. A striking steel box with an over-sailing beam and column structure, the building is best witnessed from a car.
Designed by Rodney Gordon in 1959 and completed in 1961, the memorial commemorates Michael Faraday's importance as a scientist and the fact that he was born nearby. The interior of the memorial houses a London Transport transformer for the Northern Line, which passes under the site at Elephant and Castle. Originally envisaged being clad in glass - Gordon wanted to reveal the transformer behind - concerns about vandalism resulted in an early British example of the use of stainless steel as a cladding material.
Despite its avant-garde design and interesting functional element, the memorial has had little impact since its construction. Situated in an inhospitable area and constructed without features of Gordon's design that explained that it was a memorial to Faraday, few people know why it is there. In 1995 an article appeared in the Evening Standard about the Memorial under the headline “But What On Earth Is It?”
In 1996 the memorial gained some publicity through a new lighting scheme, the result of a competition held by BBC televisions children's programme Blue Peter. It was also in 1996 that the monument was listed.
The Elephant and Castle area is to undergo substantial and much needed redevelopment. Planners over-seeing the development are optimistic that the Memorial can be relocated to a more suitable location, ideally to a new public space adjacent to the Faraday museum. The hope for utilising the internal space of the memorial is to house exhibitions or use it as a teaching space. The memorial could also act as a landmark for the museum.