London under snow was beautiful, but I can’t say I’m sorry the thaw has come. It was cold. Now the mercury is rising, the daylight hours are longer, and with the snow gone growth is apparent everywhere you look.
I’ll be leading a number of public tours over the next few weeks, starting with one around the Elephant and Castle on Sunday.
I am pleased and excited to again be taking part in Elefest this year.
The Elephant and Castle
The Elephant and Castle is, as Rob Wray the founder of Elefest rightly says, one of the most maligned parts of London. Continue reading
All being well, I shall be leading Terra Incognita this Saturday morning at 10.45. It’s a walk around the Elephant and Castle that I devised some years ago. Uou may drive through th Elephant and shudder, but there is far more to it than meets the eye. The Heygate state, now being demolished has probably had more media exposure in the last few months than in the rest of its comparatively short life. Love it or hate it, Strata can be seen from across London. Away from the roundabouts, things are quieter; neighbourly. And as for Latin London, the Elephant is its heart. Continue reading
I was walking along Brook Drive earlier today. I wasn’t working, although it does feature in my Elephant and Castle walk. Brook Drive is a boundary between Southwark and Lambeth, though the Whytefleete, the brook that gies it its name is underground these days. And, as well as being home to Lembit Ōpik – I think he’s still there anyway – it has an appeal to film makers.
These eagles adorn a pub that has been turned into a block of flats. The pub was the Two Eagles, but there are at least four on the roof.
I’ve seen it in a French film whose title I forget, but where London is shown in relentless driving rain day after day. I think it also featured in The Krays, but if you can confirm that or correct me, please do. Continue reading
We were so lucky with the weather for the Elephant and Castle walk yesterday. And I was lucky to have such a nice group of people for the walk. Thanks everyone who came along.
It’ll be on again later in the year, see https://londonbyguide.wordpress.com/dates-for-your-diary/ for details.
As some of you know, the Elephant is undergoing regeneration. It is actually the biggest urban regeneration project ever in Europe. Initially Norman Foster was involved. There were plans for low rise terraces, art galleries, piazzas (I call them squares, but there you go), an amphitheatre. All the pictures of the plans showed people sitting outside in sunny weather. Winter was to be banished from the Elephant and Castle for ever. Then the recession struck, and the budget was scaled dowm. The big name architects who promised high quality, imaginative buildings dropped out of sight. Instead we got Strata, aka the Electric Razor, which opened in April 2010 and received the Carbuncle Award later that year.
Just up the road the Shard was built.
Next Saturday afternoon I’ll be Walking the Elephant. It’s a public walk so anyone can join me for a couple of hours in one of London’s most derided neighbourhoods.
If all you know of the Elephant and Castle is a dodgy explanation of how it got its name, or the view of the roundabouts from the top deck of the 53 bus, this walk will surprise you. I promise.
My next local, public walk will be 2nd March around the Elephant and Castle. Reviled as one of the least attractive areas of London, the Elephant is far more than two roundabouts and a major traffic hub. Just yards from the busy roads you will find more than one surprising oasis of calm. And change has come to the Elephant. The old swimming baths have gone; the Mayor of London is considering granting permission for a tower block on the site of Eileen House, opposite the Ministry of Sound, which might well sound the death knell for this globally renowned club; local people are locked in debates about how they want their neighbourhood to develop. Meanwhile investors have woken up to the good communications and central location of the Elephant. Continue reading
You may have seen the blue doors unfurling on empty buildings around the place. They are the signature of Hidden Borough, the project of the Guerrilla Architects who have been staying in a cold warehouse in Great Suffolk Street Se1 for the last few weeks.
Now they are moving on. Or maybe I should say back. They are returning to Berlin.
No Place Like Home
Invitations have been issued for a farewell event tomorrow at 55 Great Suffolk Street. It starts at 7pm and they are promising architecture, music, art and performance.
Entrance by ladder only.
It was when we were on the third floor, looking up at a hole in the ceiling, that I thought to ask if the building were structurally sound.
Our host, a young architect from Berlin, assured us that it was. We moved up to the top floor to inspect the rooftop shower. It was basic, a duckboard to stand on, a hosepipe, a screen so as not to frighten the horses, and a view across London. Continue reading
Received this evening by email, this invitation:
tomorrow at 5 p.m the Guerilla Architects will open the doors of Great Suffolk Street 55 in London Sothwark to welcome you all.
Please check out the fallowing link on facebook for further information : http://www.facebook.com/HiddenBorough
See you soon,
the Guerilla Architects
See you there!