Bid to save East End estate disliked by residents

Robin: Hood Gardens, a 1970s Poplar housing estate, 210515 ©
Robin: Hood Gardens, a 1970s Poplar housing estate, 210515 ©
Robin Hood Gardens, top, and above, sign at onsite office indicates the future apparently desired by most of the estate’s occupants: regeneration

A LAST-DITCH effort is being made to save Robin Hood Gardens, a 1970s Poplar housing estate, from demolition. Motorists will have seen the now shabby-looking brutalist slab on their way to and from the Blackwall Tunnel.

A consultation told Tower Hamlets that most of the estate residents wanted total redevelopment. So the council decided it should knock down the building, despite an estimated cost of £500 million for a replacement scheme of up to 1,575 flats.

Outraged, architects around the world, especially fans of Le Corbusier and his streets in the sky, have demanded the profession act to protect what they

Le Corbusier, Unité d'Habitation/La cité radieuse, Prado, Marseille © 100616 ©
Aerial piazza: an encounter atop Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation in Marseille

term “one of Britain’s most important postwar housing projects”. Richard Rogers, Baron Rogers of Riverside, said on BBC Radio 4 that the Robin Hood designers, Alison and Peter Smithson, were “most radical and most deep-thinkers [sic] of the postwar era”.

Rogers, known in Hackney for Mossbourne Community Academy and internationally for the Pompidou Centre, added: “The streets in the air, shall we say piazzas in the air… they [the architects] were immensely interested in the relationship between public and private.

Pocahontasplaque @ Robin Hood Gardens, a 1970s Poplar housing estate, 210515 ©
Stereotyping: Pocahontas plaque at the estate. But that’s another story

“The building is without doubt the best piece of social and archictural thinking in the last 50 years. There are lots of problems… but St Paul’s had problems.”

The 20th Century Society believes Robin Hood Gardens should be listed.

Hamish Scott 210615

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