Unredeemingly urban, a renowned traffic bottle-neck and home to many thousands of Londoners; the built environment around the Elephant and Castle roundabouts in south-east London must be one of the weirdest urban settings around, the diversity of the architecture reflecting or promoting the heterogeneity of the area.
In this weird world, neither Metropolis nor Le Corbusier (though there are elements of each), the pigeons are on the ground and the humans in the sky. You can no longer distinguish between a work or a living space nor differentiate low cost housing and high value private ownership.
In amongst this metropolitan mess there is the light bulb of the campus of the University of the Arts and the fiercely independent Metropolitan Tabernacle, its portico surviving from 1861 whilst almost everything else around has been rebuilt at least once since The Blitz of World War 2.
The most “homely” building is the busy police station built of London brick, dug and fired from the clay under Londoners’ feet - but most of us wouldn’t want to stay the night there, and you would probably be charged. “The Ship” pub not far away is also faced with brick but looks entirely faux.
Yet London’s Elephant and Castle is a lively place, people go about their business beneath the many towers, the traffic eventually moves on and poorly-clothed kids still run through the streets like urchins in a Dickens novel.