urban75 blog

The Heygate Estate and the Hotel Elephant arts gallery and project space, south London

Established in late 2009, Hotel Elephant is a creative space located around the back of the notorious Heygate Estate in Elephant and Castle, south London.

Hotel Elephant is located by the derelict and soon-to-be-demolished Heygate Estate, which was once home to 3,000 residents.

Completed in 1974 and designed by the delightfully named  Tim Tinker to a  neo-brutalist architectural aesthetic, the Heygate was once seen as a great place to live, but by the end of the 2000s, the estate had fallen into severe disrepair and had a crime rate to match.

Demolition started in April 2011, but because of large amounts of asbestos inside the building, the remainder of the estate won’t be pulled down until 2015.

The Hotel Elephant held an open day earlier this month and we went along to pay them a visit – and loved the place.

The vibe amongst the artists reminded me of the old Cooltan Arts Squat in Brixton – and that’s about as high as my praise can go!

It’s a real shame that so little arts space now remains in Brixton.

Committed to ‘enriching the cultural life of the Elephant and Castle,’ the Hotel aims to offer gallery space, affordable studio space and educational projects to the local community.

An Artcore project, the Hotel receives no external funding .

Inside their main building (an old doctor’s surgery), artists had set up their own small studios and folks were invited to take a look around as part of the Open Day.

Here’s some photos from our visit.

There was a live band playing in the evening – sadly we couldn’t made the night event.

Inside a studio.

Artwork painted on to metal.

Entrance to the studio.

Fire breathing animatronics, with the Heygate Estate in the background.

I loved these portraits.

Controlling the animatronic beast, with the towering spire of The Shard in the background.

We stopped off for a coffee at the excellent Electric Elephant cafe earlier.

More info:
Elephant Hotel website
Electric Elephant cafe
Heygate Estate (wikipedia)