Elephant and Castle is the place to go at the moment for Londoners who like to encounter some mystery in their wanderings. First of all, Roger Hiorns’ Seizure is there for a few more weeks – an empty flat that Hiorns has filled with copper sulphate solution to create a magically strange blue crystal growth in the middle of a condemned council block.
There’s also the gigantic (nearly) abandoned Heygate estate, awaiting demolition as part of a long-promised regeneration of the area. Just a few residents are left in this spooky, boarded up maze. We only came across one jumpy couple going into their flat while wandering around the corridors. They seemed bewildered about what is going to happen next (understandable that they’re jumpy – according to one man we met at Seizure, services are being cut off and the place is not being policed at night in an effort to encourage the stragglers to move out).
Walking around reminds you how badly thought out these Seventies estates were from the inhabitants’ point of view. You come out onto the lower level where people park their cars and are then trapped in a concrete arena with walkways above but no steps up to them. Endlessly frustrating detours around obstacles just to find a way out for the pedestrian – like the whole of the Elephant, really. Did those architects ever use their legs?
Hope they finally move people somewhere that really does live up to those cities-in-the-sky ideas.