I used to live a block or so from the Heygate Estate in Elephant & Castle, London. At the time it was being decanted of residents in preparation for its demolition; Southwark Council posters around the neighbourhood explained in various languages where you could go to get help finding a new council flat.
In this block behind the BP station on Walworth Road, I'd guess by the number of lights on at night that perhaps twenty percent of the flats were still inhabited. Here we see two social workers making their rounds.
The trees planted around the development 35 or so years ago have only just reached their full splendour.
From up here you can see St. Pauls, the Tate Modern...
Roger Hiorn's spectacular 'Seizure' project made use of one of the nearby vacant townhouse flats along Harper Road.
Indeed now that the complex is mostly empty, and relatively safe, it's become a popular venue for film and art projects. I had a strange experience when I first downloaded these pictures from my camera, when I looked up from my laptop to see on the television a commercial filmed right in one of these corridors over Old Kent Road.
I see there's a new Michael Caine film out now, Harry Brown, that was shot here too.
Heygate Estate, London. This is the back side of the block facing Walworth Road.
The profile of the same building.
A sunbather on the roof of the Heygate Community Centre, with the Victory School seen across Rodney Road, London. Most of the community centre is vacant, although judging by the lovely aroma the bakery is still operating.
Wansey Street, London, right across the street. This is also a social housing project, an award-winning one at that, most notable for this beautiful, bravura employment of synthetic cladding. The public library on Walworth Road is at right.
Bold, utopian, and yes beautiful, the Heygate Estate is still just another failure in mass social housing, soon to be nothing but dust and splinters. Then they'll try again, but not for the poor people this time; the new development, part of a master plan for Elephant & Castle by Foster & Partners, will be market-rate flats only.