Lakanal House has a total of 98 maisonette flats, all of which are in a brutalist 'Scissor' design. This means that on the access level of each flat there are 2 bedrooms and a bathroom, and on the second level a kitchen and lounge that stretches the whole width of the unit, meaning the lounge for each flat is above one of the bedrooms of that flat and the other bedroom is on the opposite side of the access corridor.
In 2009, a fierce fire ripped through the block, killing 6 people and injuring at least 20.
At approx 16:20 GMT on 3 July 2009, a fire broke out in a flat on the 9th floor of the complex. London Fire Brigade responded with a total of 18 fire engines. Originally, the fire seemed like it was under control, but due to the rising smoke and hot gases, the fire began spreading upwards. This was something that the Fire Brigade had not anticipated.
The fire continued to spread, filling the stairway with smoke and leaving residents trapped. Eventually, the fire completely gutted flats on the 9th, 10th, and 11th floors and damaged adjacent flats in the process. Over 150 residents were evacuated and the majority had to be provided with alternative accomodation by Southwark Council.
An investigation by London Fire Brigade and Metropolitan Police found that a faulty TV set was to blame for starting the blaze. In 2010, the block was reopened after an intensive renovation effort. Though the block remains in use, it may still face demolition in years to come .