The new residents of Elephant and Castle

July 5, 2009

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In 2002 the Southwark Council decided to regenerate Elephant and Castle in order to raise its profile and reputation and to make life better for locals and newcomers. According to Southwark Council local people will benefit from an improved physical environment with tree lined streets, high quality open spaces and a largely traffic free environment by 2020. Critics fear an urban gentrification of Elephant and Castle. The most significant changes of the regeneration project will be the demolition of the Heygate Estate and the Shopping Centre. 5400 new residential units in at least seven new big apartment buildings are schemed.

Two of the seven apartment buildings have so far been erected (June 2009). One of them is O-Central. O-Central provides 188 residential and 14 commercial units. It is located around the top end of Walworth Road and along the rear of the railway line. The building isn’t gated but a concierge is monitoring 24 hours the entrance. Mostly all units in O-Central are momentarily rented out.

But who lives there? For one month I went to O-Central to capture the tenants and to find out how they like their neighbourhood. In the following you can see a tiny selection of the people, who I met.

Marija and AudriusMarija, 24 years, Research Analyst and Audrius, 25 years, Software Developer

We are kind of nomads. Before we came to London we lived in Lithuania, Germany, Estonia and Cambridge. We were one of the first people moving in. Our flat was not even completely finished. We enjoy living in a new flat.

Derek, 47, Project Manager and Darren, 32, Personal AssistantDerek, 47, Project Manager and Darren, 32, Personal Assistant

We just got back from work. We moved here because most of our friends live South of the river and we also wanted to live in a new flat. But if Elephant and Castle wouldn’t get redeveloped we wouldn’t have come here. The whole idea was to buy into a place that gets regenerated. We like the diversity of this area a lot but we don’t enjoy its dirtyness.

LucyLucy, 26, Trainee Teacher

I’m training to be a teacher. I just got back from school. My pupils were very naughty today. Elephant and Castle is a fun and quirky place.  I like that I can visit all my friends so easily from here. But I dislike the rundown shabby council blocks and the violence.

ScottSott, 23, Professional Accounting Student

I like living in Elephant and Castle because I don’t have to worry about how to get home at night. I also enjoy that it is next to Kennington which is a very friendly neighbourhood. The regeneration is definitely good. It has been too long now that nothing has been done. The shopping center is falling apart. I will stay at least for one more year in this area. But then I will probably move to Kennington.

MarcusMarcus, 47, IT consultant

I am a passionate cook. This is one reason why I like our flat. It is nice to be in the same room as my partner while preparing the food. I work in France a lot. When I am not here I don’t have to worry about my apartment. I just lock it up and there is the concierge at the entrance. I didn’t like Elephant and Castle so much at the beginning, but it is now growing on me. I especially like East Street Market and the fact that the population is so divers


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One Response to “The new residents of Elephant and Castle”

  1. martamoreiras Says:

    i really really love this portraits, you know it!
    they’re great!!!


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