Demolition has officially commenced on East London housing development Robin Hood Gardens, bringing to an end any chance of a last-minute preservation effort for the Brutalist icon. Designed by British architects Alison and Peter Smithson and completed in 1972, plans for the site’s clearing and redevelopment have been in the works for more than five years, before government indecision and a spirited protest campaign led by architects including Richard Rogers, Zaha Hadid, Robert Venturi, and Toyo Ito put those plans in doubt.
Sad Day, just noticed they've started demolishing parts of Robin Hood Gardens pic.twitter.com/N3S5xJrJz4— Robin Hood (@saverobinhood) August 23, 2017
An example of the duo’s “Streets in the Sky” concept, the Robin Hood Gardens featured wide concrete balconies on every third level of each building, providing views into the central garden and create communal space for residents to gather and for children to play. A lack of upkeep, however, caused the complex to fall into disrepair and become an incubator for crime.
Once demolition is complete, developer Swan Housing Association will begin on the next phases of their Blackwall Reach Regeneration Project, which will create more than 1,500 new apartments and public spaces designed by Haworth Tompkins, Metropolitan Workshop and CF Møller. To be constructed over three phases, the scheme will retain only the central grassy mound from the original Robin Hood Gardens.
Apartment units in the new development will be kept “affordable,” although the accuracy of that term as defined by the UK is debatable, as it allows units to be priced up to 80 percent that of the market value. In Blackwall Reach, some apartments will cost as much as $1,855 per month.
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The Swan Housing Association has announced the appointment of Danish firm C.F. Møller to join Haworth Tompkins and Metropolitan Workshop in designing housing projects for the Blackwall Reach regeneration plan, a £300 million redevelopment effort which will replace Alison and Peter Smithson's Brutalist east London estate, Robin Hood Gardens.
British filmmaker Joe Gilbert has created a short tribute film to Alison and Peter Smithson's Robin Hood Gardens estate in Poplar, East London, which-as of August 2015-is set to be demolished. Accompanied by insightful commentary from Timothy Brittain-Catlin, the film charts the buildings' history and recent threats to a backdrop of monochrome shots of the estate, in all of its dilapidated and "pleasantly wild" current state.