After many years spent fighting to preserve the famous Robin Hood Gardens social housing complex in East London, the architecture community mourns another loss. 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. The historic building was built by modernist architects Alison and Peter Smithson and remains an important piece to Great Britain’s architectural history. Continue reading for more.
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. 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 plan also includes a school, mosque, energy center, office, retail and community space.
Residents are guaranteed the option to stay in the area if desired. Many reports state that many residents have already begun to move out. However, demolition is not scheduled until phase one of the regeneration scheme has been built on another part of the site.
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.”
It is expected that this redevelopment will take around nine years to complete with first new homes being constructed in 2012/2013. Following the construction of the new homes, providing a place for the existing Robin Hood Garden tenants, demolition will take place.
Learn more about the Robin Hood Gardens story here on ArchDaily.
Photo by Flickr user Chris Guy, licensed through Creative Commons.