Describing Architecture

Heygate: A Natural HistoryHeygate: A Natural HistoryHeygate: A Natural HistoryDA13-8232DA13-7963DA13-8205DA13-8209

Heygate / Matthew Benjamin Coleman

Gelatin Silver Prints 8.25″x10.25″

Heygate: A Natural History


The Heygate Estate in south London was completed in 1974. It now stands almost empty, most of its 3,000 former residents having been ‘decanted’ over the previous decade as part of the latest phase of urban renewal in north Southwark. An urban forest containing hundreds of mature trees overlooks the slowly decaying buildings.

But at least 283 out of the 406 London Planes, Goat Willows, Norway maples and cherry trees living here will be felled during the demolition works. Treating our cities as ‘works in process’ is inevitable and clearly beneficial, but the manner in which this takes place invariably leads not only to the disintegration of local communities, but also to the unnecessary destruction of natural habitats.

These three images are part of a long-term study into the Heygate Estate during its final years of existence and its subsequent destruction.



1-3 Heygate Photographs

4 Exhibit

5-7 Exhibit in context