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Public Space Research Elephant and Castle

CASE STUDY: Elephant and Castle


Masterplan by LCC (1947 – R. Matthews, Chief Architect, LCC; 1956 - Leslie Martin, Chief Architect, LCC; 1958 - Hubert Bennett, Chief Architect, LCC); Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre by Boissenvain & Osmond; Alexander Fleming House – Ernö Goldfinger.




Elephant and Castle was one of eight post-war Comprehensive Development Areas (CDA) in London, and bears the most resemblance to its modernist counterparts in São Paulo in that the masterplanning was ‘driven’ by the car, and the redevelopment was a transport hub: tube, bus, train and car. The masterplan evolved from Leslie Martin’s more traditional lining of the new roads with perimeter blocks in 1956 to Hubert Bennett’s more doctrinaire CIAM approach of objects on cleared sites in 1958. While the LCC maintained control of the overall plan, several of the buildings were delivered by developers and architects working in a private capacity, in particular Ernö Goldfinger’s Alexander Fleming House for Imry Properties (1962) and Boissenvain & Osmond’s Shopping Centre for the Willets Group (1965). The Shopping Centre, the first of its kind in Britain, is the focus of our research, the original intention being to provide the same kind of spacious covered mall then being developed in the United States, to which one could drive and shop, as well as walk. The later appearance of an informal market in what was to be a landscaped plaza between the building and the road raises interesting questions about the subversion of design by the public, and the role of design in impeding the public.

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