"Joy and Beauty" at the Elephant

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Wednesday 29 March 2006 5.31pm
Unless my memory is failing, I dont' think that I've ever posted this link here, so here is a recycling of a post I made in "another forum".

Lang Rabbie wrote:
Elephant groupies might be interested in this architecture student's study of the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre - published on his own website - that reads like a love letter to the current building - one section is actually headed "the Joy and Beauty". :eek:
It does also contain some fascinating and (mostly accurate) building history.

Unfortunately, he seems to have failed to realise that the current painted cladding wasn't actually part of the original 1960s design, but [according to my copy of Pevsner and Cherry Buildings of England - London South, anyway ;) ] the centre was reclad in 1978 to designs by the Percy Thomas Partnership.

My understanding was that it was at this time that the whole top floor of shopping (now the bowling/bingo) became the vast DHSS staff canteen. The current leisure use is a strange fulfilment of my prophecy from the one time I had lunch there with a former DHSS staffer in 1990 and I said that it looked like Butlins!)
Thursday 30 March 2006 8.39am
Excellent, it's really interesting, and quite funny. Presumably the master plan photos are from the original master plan.

I've always wanted to know if the Elephant on the podium to the North of the shopping centre was the original from the pub - does anyone know?
http://streaming.into.org.uk/lite/access/images/build/pic14.jpg
Thursday 30 March 2006 10.53am
Though interesting, the article doesn't seem particularly well written, giving the impression that the tent on the western side of the centre is part of the original scheme, and as already mentioned by Lang Rabbie the cladding on the upper floors. Also, I believe the idea of covering the outside with posters or imagery was part of Erno Goldfinger's rejected scheme, not the one we ended up with.

For anyone interested in the history of the Shopping Centre and the rest of the area, the local studies library off Borough High Street really is worth a visit - the old newspaper cuttings through the years are fascinating.
Friday 31 March 2006 12.51am
This event at Tate Modern might interest anyone who thinks the Elephant is a thing of joy and beauty - and even a few who dont:
http://www.tate.org.uk/modern/eventseducation/coursesworkshops/theelephantvanishes5209.htm
Friday 31 March 2006 5.56pm
I had forgotten that the shopping centre was meant to have a sliding glass roof - does anyone remember it working?
Saturday 1 April 2006 6.32pm
..and on the subject of elephant buildings, there's another interesting article on the mystery cube here,

Michael Faraday Memorial
http://www.riskybuildings.org.uk/docs/29faraday/index.html#

if only it had been glass, the the line, 'best viewed from a car' is funny.
Let's hope the regeneration is compromised in quite the way so many of the Elephant's 60s designers where.

BTW - There's a shot of Goldfinger's design for the shopping centre on the front cover of this book
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1854904442/

The arrangement of adverts of a bit more in the style of the Pompidou centre banners than the hap hazzard arrangement, and holes left in the poor old elephant shopping centre at the moment - does anyone know why they move around? The article above has put the whole centre in a different light for me.
Monday 3 April 2006 10.05pm
Nice to read something that looks at the original aims. Amusing to think they might do all the rebuilding and realise the new complexes are really noisy and unprotected from the harsh streets surrounding it!
Tuesday 4 April 2006 12.26pm
All

We have a copy of 'Bartholemews Plan of London, Central Area' hanging on our wall. As its framed I an't check the date but from memory we think it is c1930.

The map covers an area from Shepherds Bush in the west to the East India Dock and from Holloway in the north to Denmark Hill. One feature of the map that has always struck me quite forcibly is that, of the 13 Thames road crossings shown on the map, 7 of them lead directly to the Elephant and Castle. I don't know what the traffic stats are but it is clear that, historically, E&C has been London's major junction. All the more so when you see that the E&C is London's gateway to Dover.

Its therefore unsurprising that there has always been a conflict between the significance of the E&C as a transport junction and its 'local use' as an integral part of London.

The current E&C regen project seeks to tackle the problem by removing the two islands (one will be a 'T' and the other about 270degrees). Maybe the E&C regen will really 'reclaim the streets' .

Regards

Niall

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