Green shoots … the new Strata tower in Elephant & Castle, London. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

I am standing on the wind-buffeted tip of the Strata tower, looking out through the blades of what appear to be an enormous propeller, at the London skyline and the green basin beyond. St Paul’s cathedral, across the river, seems close enough to touch. It’s the kind of view, and the kind of heroically stylised building, you would expect to see in some 1930s sci-fi movie: the perfect place for a hero and a villain to have a rooftop showdown.

At 147 metres, the newly opened Strata is London’s tallest residential building. The nine-metre blades I’m standing beneath are housed in one of three wind turbines that crown this new tower soaring above Elephant and Castle, an area of the city not known for flashy penthouses. But Elephant and Castle is undergoing a massive, if slow, transition from a rundown miasma of noisy road intersections, underpasses and vast housing estates into what the Borough of Southwark hopes will be a £1.5bn model of inner-city regeneration.


Jonathan Glancey