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Falling glass panel lends weight to Elephant and Castle demolition plans

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A glass panel from the Elephant and Castle shopping centre in south-east London has fallen and shattered on the pavement - bringing the major transport hub to a standstill.

The incident, yesterday, adds more credence to bringing forward the demolition of the ageing 10-storey Hannibal House office building, already earmarked for the wrecking ball under the Rogers, Stirk, Harbour & Partners (RSHP) masterplan.

The shopping centre, originally designed by Boissevain and Osmond Architects, was taped off by police, and pedestrians were prohibited from using the subways. The underground station and a nearby road were also closed.

Shopping centre manager Mike Knell said: 'A glass panel from the curtain walling high up on Hannibal House was broken, causing the glass to shatter.

'For health and safety reasons the borough surveyor asked police to close the road while maintenance teams abseiled over the top of the building to ensure that the remaining glass was safe.'

The site lies at the centre of the planned £1.5 billion transformation of Elephant and Castle, by a consortium led by developer Lend Lease, which, as well as RSHP, will also include Allies and Morrison and Glenn Howells Architects.

The building, which sits opposite Ernö Goldfinger's Alexander Fleming House, was described by Pevsner as 'an early depressing example of the species [of shopping centres], unsuccessful, no doubt partly because of the uncivilised access'.

by Richard Vaughan

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