Southwark is a London borough in transition. The past 15 years have seen the area around the river transformed into a busy tourist trail. Further south at the Elephant and Castle, a £1.5 billion re-generation project is underway, due for completion in 2025. This programme is about that re-generation and its effects on the built environment, the people who live there, and the people who have already been moved out. The Heygate Estate sits at the heart of this situation. Completed in 1974 and previously containing 1100 homes. It now sits monolithic and largely empty, windows sealed with metal sheeting and electricity disconnected. Much of it is still open to the public, however and a visit will show you allotments which local residents have carved out of the open spaces, free runners climbing the concrete walkways and ruin tourists taking pictures on high end DSLRs.
Heygate Heaven is composed from the soundscape of the area and the voices of former and current residents of the estate, the original architect, a former leader of Southwark council, the head planner for the Elephant and Castle regeneration, academics and researchers. It was produced by Chris Wood during the spring and summer of 2012.
My aim with this piece was to use the estate as the central character and offer the various interviews as different interpretations of the space. The assumed realism and objectivity of the binaural environmental recordings is played off against the various voices (including my own) and the subjective understandings we/they have of the estate.
PS / I finished this piece in July 2012. Since then a lot has happened. The final residents have been evicted from the Heygate and Southwark Council accidentally released the financial figures of the deal. Extraordinarily, they will ultimately make a loss on the sale of the land. For more up to date information these would be good places to start:
the financial details of the sale can be found here: