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. 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.
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