Trellick of the south?
My Brixton friend tells me that this local building is becoming the next Trellick Tower. You know, a place that on one side people are writing it off as a hole, while on the other it’s being hailed an architectural icon.
It’s got presence, whatever you decide. I’ve been aware of it since moving to London 13 years ago, but have only just found out a handful of facts about it:
It’s one of six housing estates built in the 1980′s, in response to Brixton’s bomb damage from WWII.
It’s called Southwyk House and is part of the larger Somerleyton estate, but is also known locally as the Barrier Block.
It has been described as neobrutalist-inspired architecture.
A lot of people think it’s actually Brixton prison.
It was designed by a young female Polish architect (whose name I’ve failed to find) who, according to legend, killed herself after it was built the wrong way around.
This story has been rubbished. The estate was part of a redevelopment plan drawn up in 1968 by the GLC, which also included a six lane motorway slicing through Brixton, past this site. The building’s facade – tiny windows, zig-zag design - was intended to bounce traffic noise back to the ground and though the road project was abandoned, the block was already under construction.
The block has 176 properties, 173 of which are served by concierge, and I’ve been reading about good sized rooms and views from the top of it – more easily imagined when you see the other side of it (above). I’ve also been reading about drugs crime, dilapidation, etc etc, also depressingly easy to assume.
Finally, apparently Damien Hurst lived here way back. Does anyone know if that one is actually true?