The Cotton Street block was demolished in 2017, safe for a three-storey section acquired by the V&A. If we want truly to be loyal to the memory of that generation of architects, the best thing we could do is to learn from their attitude. Robin Hood Gardens is a residential estate in Poplar, London, designed in the late 1960s by architects Alison and Peter Smithson and completed in 1972. Robin Hood Gardens (1968-72) by Peter and Alison Smithson: photo courtesy wikimedia commons Following the construction of the new homes, providing a place for the existing Robin Hood Garden tenants, demolition will take place. The Robin Hood Gardens public housing complex in East London has finally met the wrecking ball. Yesterday, culture minister Margaret Hodge concurred that Robin Hood Gardens is not ‘fit for purpose’. The supporters of the Building Design campaign have urged for Robin Hood Gardens to be ‘rescued’ and to be given a second chance, but they seem to believe the estate’s inhabitants are as big a threat to the building as the wrecking ball. All images are © each office/photographer mentioned. Like many post-war estates, Robin Hood Gardens has been demolished before its time. Manifesto: Towards a New Humanism in Architecture will be launched tonight, 3 July, in central London. Richard Rogers, for example, commented snobbishly that Robin Hood Gardens has been lived in by those ‘least capable of looking after themselves, much less their environment’ (4). Price understood that continuous innovation is much more important than the need to preserve buildings once they have served their purpose. The worst thing we could do is try to preserve their buildings as museum pieces or as relics of a bygone era. But it is their responsibility to design good housing that caters for changing lifestyles. Plans to demolish the Robin Hood Gardens housing estate in Poplar were approved by Tower Hamlets Council at a meeting of its Strategic Development Committee yesterday. Such self-confidence seems to be absent today. 18/26 The Phase 2 scheme designed by Haworth Tompkins and Metropolitan Workshop Architects will replace the western wing of the Smithsons' Robin Hood Gardens scheme in east London 19/26 The Robin Hood Gardens estate in Poplar, east London. Instead, we are more likely to get yet another bland (but safe and ‘sustainable’) scheme that will fit today’s lack of aspiration and vision in architecture. Completed in 1972, the building was designed by Alison (1928 –1993) and Peter Smithson (1923 – 2003), British architects of lasting international reputation. While the estate should be admired for its boldness and experimental nature, we should have no qualms about tearing it down and building something better in its place. It is expected that this redevelopment will take around nine years to complete with first new homes being constructed in 2012/2013. An ex-council housing estate, being demolished. They did not shy away from the monumental task of rebuilding Britain after the war, and they dared to experiment with new forms, materials and arrangements. Yesterday, the government, after months of protest headed by some of Britain’s most renowned architects, rejected calls for the estate to be listed. The proposal will occupy an extended 7.7 hectare site, adding 1,575 new homes, as compared to Robin Hood Gardens existing 2 hectare site consisting of 252 homes. The government cleared … As my co-authors and I argue in our manifesto, we should not be afraid of building and experimenting more, in the knowledge that we can, and should, rebuild again later. However, demolition is not scheduled until phase one of the regeneration scheme has been built on another part of the site. The east block, still with tenants, is to be scrapped, too, making way for luxury housing. The original concrete blocks which flank the central garden will be topped with new metallic structures that will host a university campus. The InterAction Centre was demolished in 2003. … You can find out more here. Previously, he said the end of the boundary between town and country is a liberation, not a loss. Instead of futile and misguided campaigns to rescue buildings like Robin Hood Gardens, architects would do better to stand up for their professional autonomy and integrity, to argue for more freedom and fewer restrictions, for a more inspiring urban landscape for everyone and less instrumental meddling by regulatory bodies. Yet according to a group of famous and respected architects, including Richard Rogers, Norman Foster and Zaha Hadid, the estate is a masterpiece which should be preserved. Haworth Tompkins has been brought in to work on the replacement for Alison and Peter Smithson’s soon-to-be-demolished Robin Hood Gardens estate in Tower Hamlets, reports the Architect’s Journal. London’s iconic and hotly debated Brutalist residential complex, Robin Hood Gardens, is currently being demolished, but not all will be lost.Today, the Victoria and Albert Museum announced that it has acquired a three-story section of the housing estate, which it may display at its new east London location slated to open in 2021. "Robin Hood Gardens is a complex and ambitious design and the only realization of the Smithson’s ideas about social housing, born of twenty years’ research," the curators tell AD PRO. Others saw this as a great opportunity not just to advocate the demolition of the estate, but also of the modernist ideology. It is not up to architects to build communities, or to dictate to people how to live their lives. (2) To the rescue of Robin Hood, Building Design, 22 February 2008, (3) A capital despoiled by monumental egos, Financial Times, 2 June 2008 (login required), (4) Modern architects try to dodge the wrecking ball, The Times, 7 June 2008, Help spiked fight for freedom – become a regular donor. In 2015 Historic England rejected applications to award Robin Hood Gardens listed status, declaring it unfit “as a place for human beings to live”. The views that these self-appointed guardians of modernism have expressed in the past few months reveal that they see architectural works as separate from the lives of the people who inhabit and engage with them. Completed in 1972, Robin Hood Gardens was intended as a model of post-war London social housing. After many years spent fighting to preserve the famous Robin Hood Gardens social housing complex in East London, the architecture community mourns another loss. Robin Hood Gardens is a lesson for future cities At the Venice Biennale, the V&A is exhibiting a fragment of the social housing complex completed in 1972 and designed by Alison and Peter Smithson, which is now being demolished. There have not been any inspiring or truly innovative ideas in housing in the last three decades and so it is a shame that the big-name architects who have rushed to the defence of Robin Hood Gardens have largely avoided designing housing projects, focusing instead on flashy office buildings and museums. Its footprint has been largely cleared and views of the “internal” elevation of the remaining eastern block have been opened up. The four buildings will replace Robin Hood Gardens' western block, while the eastern block will be demolished during the third development phase. Despite its charming-sounding name, Robin Hood Gardens in Poplar, east London, is one of the capital’s most rundown social housing estates. We think it’s time architecture re-engaged with society, but rather than fetishising ‘community participation’, we believe that striving to understand the genuine needs of residents, or other types of ‘users’, does not preclude the ability of architects to exercise professional judgement. It is impossible to predict what the value, usefulness and purpose of a building will be in the future. They are clearly not acting in the spirit of modernism. Instead of simply lamenting the dilapidated state of iconic buildings and trying to blame their decline on the ‘wrong’ type of inhabitants, the architects could have taken this demolition plan as an opportunity to propose better schemes, to recognise some of the mistakes of the past, and to push for even more radical experimentation. Most of the estate’s residents were in favour of its demolition, although architects and heritage bodies led a high profile campaign to preserve it. According to the Blackwall Reach officials, refurbishment of the historical building was not considered as they believe it would “fail to achieve the substantial wider regeneration benefits which a comprehensive approach can bring, including hundreds of new affordable rented homes of the existing community and for other people needing housing in the borough.” Furthermore, they stated that refurbishment would “not meet the same standards of energy efficiency as new homes and the opportunity to provide a substantially extended school, more open space and new community facilities would be reduced.”. The decision to demolish the estate, on which there are 214 flats, was made as part of a larger £500-million proposal to regenerate the Blackwall Reach area. The manifesto is free of contemporary architectural buzzwords such as ‘accessibility’, ‘community building’, and ‘local identity’ because it is not up to architects to fulfil crass government policies. Stephens and others are delighted to see this icon of modernist design go, but the response of some of the high priests of architecture in Britain to the whole affair shows that they, too, have a problematic relationship with modernism. The Robin Hood Gardens complex, which has 213 flats, was built in 1972 and was designed by Alison and Peter Smithson, the highly respected architect couple who were among the leaders of the modernist brutalist style, which favours the use of exposed concrete. Kate Jackson. You can find more information about the launch here. This was not the first time that Robin Hood Gardens had featured at La Biennale di Venezia. the world's most visited architecture website, © All rights reserved. This is the case for Robin Hood Gardens – regardless of the noble aspirations of its designers. Manifesto: Towards a New Humanism in Architecture, Modern architects try to dodge the wrecking ball. Despite objections from English Heritage, Design Council Cabe and many starchitects, including Richard Rogers and Zaha Hadid, the first phase of the controversial Blackwell Reach regeneration scheme will begin within the year. In 1976, in the 37th International Art Exhibition, the Smithsons’ exhibition Sticks and Stones included a billboard-size photograph of Robin Hood Gardens shortly after completion, and a bench based on one of the concrete columns that articulate the façade of the building. Sadly, given the multiple constraints that are placed on architects today – with stringent health and safety and environmental requirements choking creativity and boldness – it is questionable if a genuinely innovative project can replace Robin Hood Gardens. Housing estates, such as Robin Hood Gardens in east London, have been demolished to make way for newer buildings Treasury Minister Jesse … Yes, Peter and Alison were modernists, but they had no desire to erase the past. Despite its charming-sounding name, Robin Hood Gardens in Poplar, east London, is one of the capital’s most rundown social housing estates. James Heartfield urged us to stop romanticising council housing. Personalize your stream and start following your favorite authors, offices and users. Robin Hood Gardens Replacement. ArchDaily 2008-2020. Architects should dare to be radical. Tower Hamlets Council and the London Thames Gateway Development Corporations have approved the demolition of the 1960s Brutalist complex in an effort to make way for a new £500 million sustainable development comprised of energy efficient, mixed-tenure homes and an enlarged central park. Robin Hood Gardens: A Ruin in Reverse at the Applied Arts Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale. When conservationists tried to defy his will and campaigned for preserving the building, Price fought them hard and won. And when the Victorian terraces were demolished to make way for Robin Hood Gardens, their remnants were used to construct a key garden feature. English Heritage claimed that ‘in the end it failed in its original brief to create a housing development which worked on human terms’ (1). The estate was built by the Greater London Council, but subsequently the London Bo… Lovers of brutalist architecture lost a key battle today in their campaign to save the controversial housing estate Robin Hood Gardens. Robin Hood Gardens in Poplar is being demolished to make way for new flats – many argue that it’s an architectural treasure and that its residents have been unfairly forced out 27December 2016 Main image: Abdul Rahim outside the Robin Hood Gardens estate, London. After years of protests from locals, architects, and critics, local authorities at … The V&A is showing part of the demolished Robin Hood Gardens at the Venice Architecture Biennale. Or read more at spiked issue Architecture and planning. A salvaged fragment of a housing estate that is currently being demolished in East London is to be sent to the Venice Architectural Biennale in May. It is currently partially demolished and a chunk of … The new tower will include housing for the Robin Hood Gardens’ current occupants. 2021 is looking an awful lot like 2020 so far – lockdown authoritarianism, Big Tech censorship and woke hysteria continue to run amok. On RHG rescues the original project of Alison and Peter Smithson. This is only possible if we have the self-confidence that the Smithsons and their contemporaries had. In another 1967 text, the Smithsons wrote that, ‘buildings should be thought of from the beginning as fragments’. The V&A announced that it was acquiring part of Robin Hood Gardens shortly before demolition started in December 2017. Reference: Blackwall Reach Official Website, East Londong Advertiser, Architectural Record, BBC, Guardian. I am horrified that a section will be displayed in the V&A galleries – once the social housing’s been demolished and … In truth, these architects have shown incredible cowardice in this debate. Robin Hood Gardens has since become the catalyst for much debate around the success or failure of the movement. All that remains of this part of the Smithsons’ seminal housing scheme in Poplar is a pile of rubble. Demolition of the westerly block of Robin Hood Gardens has been completed. Thank you! The late Cedric Price, one of the most influential architects in Britain – despite having built very little – once campaigned against the preservation of one of his own buildings. Council officials justified the decision on cost grounds, citing a study that proved it would be more expensive to renovate the estate than to pull it down and build anew. The scale of such an ambitious project made mistakes inevitable, but such is the nature of experimentation. They lent their support to a campaign initiated by the architectural weekly Building Design to rescue Robin Hood Gardens (2). It was built as a council housing estate with homes spread across 'streets in the sky': social housing characterised by broad aerial walkways in long concrete blocks, much like the Park Hill estate in Sheffield; it was informed by, and a reaction against, Le Corbusier's Unité d'Habitation. A walk through Robin Hood Gardens in Poplar which is being demolished and then along the ancient Poplar High Street in Tower Hamlets. More importantly, they should stop self-imposing these constraints and quit worrying about being ‘socially responsible’. Our manifesto emphasises respect for architects’ autonomy as well as the general public’s. In a funny twist of fate, a large mound was created in the center of the courtyard to contain the remains of the buildings demolished to make room for Robin Hood Gardens. But to do so we need your help. In a particularly verbose piece, Philip Stephens of the Financial Times decried the ‘expensive mediocrity’ that typifies London’s skyline and promised to cheer alongside the Robin Hood Gardens residents when the bulldozers arrive (3). The polarised debate soon moved beyond the merits of the building itself and quickly escalated into a wholesale condemnation of modernist architecture. © Chris Guy Robin Hood Gardens: Housing at the Expense of an Idea. The … Many reports state that many residents have already begun to move out. Robin Hood Gardens was designed by the architects Alison and Peter Smithson in the 1970s and considered a significant example of New Brutalism. Price conceived the InterAction Centre in Kentish Town, north London, as a building with a limited life span and to that end planned for it to be dismantled within 20 years. Karl Sharro is a London-based architect and writer. At the beginning of 2008, Tower Hamlets council proposed to demolish the estate as part of a wider redevelopment scheme. The plan also includes a school, mosque, energy center, office, retail and community space. The co-author of a new architectural manifesto says tearing down the brutalist housing estate is fully in the spirit of modernism. English Heritage, a quango which advises the government on conservation issues, did not consider Robin Hood Gardens worthy of listing, a status that would have given it protection from demolition and placed tougher conditions on its redevelopment. Learn more about the Robin Hood Gardens story here on ArchDaily. Robin Hood Gardens demolition is an “act of vandalism” says Simon Smithson Simon Smithson, the son of the architects behind the soon-to-be-demolished Robin Hood Gardens, has attacked politicians for tampering with the heritage-listing system, to erase prime examples of the UK’s post-war architecture. Continue reading for more. Image by Janet Hall RIBA Library Photographs Collection If you enjoy what we do, and you have a bit of money to spare, please do consider donating to spiked – or even better, becoming a regular donor. Rather than seeing it as a continuous project of innovation and experimentation – elements that are intrinsic to the modernist ideology – they prefer to regard it as a finished project that is in need of preservation. Sat 22 Oct 2016 12.00 EDT Last modified on Wed 23 Sep 2020 10.29 EDT The historic building was built by modernist architects Alison and Peter Smithson and remains an important piece to Great Britain’s architectural history. The government has now given the green light for the estate’s two council blocks to be demolished, and for a 30-storey tower to be built in its place. It is the intention of ManTowNHuman to rebuild this confidence – and we ask other architects to take up this challenge with us. This, they said, would create a modern, bustling city in the sky. To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan. Austin Williams looked at New Orleans and the New Urban vision, and examined the state of English cities. All this changes with time, and buildings can ultimately stop working the way they were originally intended to work. After many years spent fighting to preserve the famous Robin Hood Gardens social housing complex in East London, the architecture community mourns another loss. Displaying the ruins of demolished social housing at the Venice Architecture Biennale is not ‘art-washing’ The V&A acquired a fragment of London's Robin Hood Gardens before it was demolished London’s V&A Museum acquired a three-storey section of the sprawling Robin Hood Gardens last year, and last week announced it is to transport supplementary pieces from the demolition on a barge to Italy for the world famous design … Photo by Flickr user Chris Guy, licensed through Creative Commons. The project was designed by famed architects Alison and Peter Smithson as a British response to Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation housing project in France. Residents are guaranteed the option to stay in the area if desired. James Woudhuysen wanted to demolish Brown’s plans for eco-towns, and warned of the dangers of Brownfield Brutalism. In the past year, this phenomenon has been made most explicit with the museumification of Robin Hood Gardens (RHG) by the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A). This is a very short response to the acquisition of a part of Robin Hood Gardens by the V&A museum. Karl Sharro thought Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron had made a mess of the Tate Modern extension. Even £5 per month is a huge help, allowing us to keep bringing you our free articles, essays and insights every day. Robin Hood Gardens, London, England, designed by Alison and Peter Smithson in 1968 and demolished in 2017 22 comments 99% Upvoted Log in or sign up to leave a comment log in sign up You'll now receive updates based on what you follow! It was hundreds of families’ homes over the last 40 years, and that is what the archive images from the Smithson Family Collection portray. Robin Hood Gardens, located in Poplar, East London, is a nationally important and internationally recognised work of Brutalist architecture. We’re going to have to fight for freedom, democracy and sanity all over again this year, and spiked intends to play our part. 2014-feb-17 - Image 1 of 1 from gallery of Robin Hood Gardens to be Demolished. Towards a New Humanism in Architecture is an attempt to translate our discontent with the current state of architecture into a meaningful project. By contrast, the recently published manifesto, Towards a New Humanism in Architecture (ManTowNHuman), of which I am co-author, argues against such dismissive attitudes (5). East London has finally met the wrecking ball fought them hard and won flank the central garden will be with... Through Creative Commons important than the need to preserve their buildings as museum pieces or relics... Way for luxury housing the controversial housing estate is fully in the future bringing you our articles. Or to dictate to people how to live their lives tearing down the brutalist estate... 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