The Heygate estate at London’s Elephant and Castle is a highly visible relic of Southwark Council’s vigorous housing construction programme in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Now almost empty and facing demolition, it is to be replaced by a private development. The estate is a late example of the modernist style in British social housing: a style that is widely perceived to have failed and to have engendered numerous social problems. This paper draws an analogy between the radical impulse in modernist architecture and the aesthetics of sound art. One method of catching a momentary echo of the suggestion of alternative worlds hidden in the fabric of such buildings, it is argued, is through an investigation of the acoustic environment. The paper closes with a description of a sound art project undertaken by the author in and around the Heygate estate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-455
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2011


  • architecture
  • brutalism
  • council housing
  • Elephant and Castle
  • Utopia
  • Southwark
  • sound art
  • London

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