I'm a student about to move to a flat in Metro Central Heights at the Elephant, and I'm wondering what I'm letting myself in for?
The Elephant itself is certainly a change from the leafy streets of my family home, and the pricey streets of Fitzrovia where my hall was! My impressions of the place are that there is definitely a slight edgy feel to the area, though there's also the feeling that if you're sensible it's perfectly safe. The proposed again and again regeneration of the area will certainly be interesting to me, being an Urban Planning, Design and Management student!
And I know Metro Central is hardly what you'd call student accommodation. but hey we negotiated a good price and the transport links are all in place. Seems like compact yet comfortable living.
Well, that's myself introduced! If anyone would like to offer any tips or share experiences, I'd be delighted.
Welcome to Elephant.
Unless you plan on being a long term resident, I doubt that you will see much of the regeneration. If anything much happens on the ground in the next couple of years I'll be surprised. Of course you may experience the building work planned for the Metro Central carpark!
As for 'edgy' - it's not leafy suburbia, but then probably no worse than the centre of any city. There are always plenty of people about - as its a big bus hub and operates 24 hours (e.g. early am Ministry of Sound)
Just act as if you've been around for ever and be cool. I've lived around the area for years - use your invisible antenna (be aware of what's going on around you but pretend not to!). Avoid the subways - they're nasty and smelly anyway. Keep your valuables close to you and watch which cash points you use. Lloyds in the shopping centre is OK, as is the one down the side street that is part of the University (HSBC). I think some of the dodgy ones have closed now anyway! You'll meet loads of people if you go into the bars - they seem to attract a good mix of decent people somehow. I could go on and on but I'm already sounding like a mother hen!!!
I'd say enjoy the architecture down here in the Elephant while you can.
If Norman Foster is involved in the regeneration project, it can only :
1) get uglier - viz GLA City Hall and the Baltic Exchange in the City
2) be rebuilt twice - viz the "Bouncing Bridge" between St Pauls and the New Tate.
Nothing to do with the shape of the building - it looks like a wounded dalek or an emerging penis, either of which is fine by me.
The original design WAS brilliant - the cladding was superb.
But somewhere along the route to completion, the architect plans were changed without reference to the public and the building they put up is not the one they had planning permission for.
Stand in front of the building and look at it carefully. You will see that the central area of glass cladding is of a much higher and nicer-looking quality than the rest of the building
In the original design the entire edifice was covered with this cladding. It looked superb in the architects drawings.
When they actually put it up, they surreptitiously switched the majority of the cladding for what we have now. You honestly cannot say this is NICE?
It looks just like the cheap plastic panelling they covered the loos with on Birmingham Coach Station in the 1960s....
It's not my imagination - look in the Evening Standard archives - they did a whole page feature with side by side pics of the original design and the final structure, also wanting to know what happened, but as far as I know, no-one said anything in response.
I personally think they ran out of money and didn't want to say so.
Maybe New Labour cut the budget after Ken won the election, to spite him.
I saw Foster's dome for the Reichstag in Berlin and it's inspirational and truly brilliant. We were supposed to get the same, but we got its ugly cousin instead.
You are right - it does look good from a distance and also at nightime, but I live right next to the thing and it is a sad lost opportunity.
Just look at the quality of the cladding in the More London development behind it. Puts City Hall to shame.
The City Re building looks like Thunderbird 2 standing on its tail with the rudder missing.
The bouncing bridge is not a patch on the wonderful Hungerford bridge, which was not designed by Foster and therefore not publicised properly. Nor did it come in two years late and way over budget..
Foster is a hype merchant, there are much more talented architects around...
If the cladding was a better spec City Hall would look fantastic, with the drab grey it looks like a cheap 70s pre-fab like my old school (which was only a temporary structure, you could kick the wall panels from the inside and climb through them). Apart fropm the teething problems Millenium bridge is fantastic though, if you get the chance go over it in the small hours when no one's around, one of the most peaceful serene moments you can have in this town!