Demolition: Robin Hood Gardens
by Peter and Alison Smithson, London, UK, 1972
DATE: 25/8/2017
"Despite years of campaigning from architects and heritage bodies, demolition is now underway on Robin Hood Gardens, the post-war housing estate in east London designed by exponents of new brutalism, Alison and Peter Smithson.

Images showing the the historic 1970s housing estate being pulled down began appearing on social media earlier this week, although its demolition has been on the cards for over a decade.

The brutalist estate will be demolished in sections, with the western block going first. Residents of this block have long been evicted, but the eastern block is still occupied and will be pulled down later.

In 2009, the government granted Robin Hood Gardens a five-year immunity from being considered for listing, allowing local council Tower Hamlets to give the go-ahead for its demolition, despite a high-profile preservation campaign backed by prominent architects.

Richard Rogers, the late Zaha Hadid, Robert Venturi and Toyo Ito all protested against the destruction of the complex, which was the only housing estate designed by husband-and-wife duo Peter Smithson (1923-2003) and Alison Smithson (1928-1993).

Once that five-year period came to an end in 2014, the Twentieth Century Society revived its earlier campaign to have the building saved.

Its report claimed that the decision not to protect the estate with a formal heritage listing the first time around was ill-judged, and it attracted the backing of Rogers and his colleague Simon Smithson – the son of the building´s architects.

Post-war architecture and Smithons expert Dirk van den Heuvel, also lent his name in support, describing the estate as a "rare, majestic gesture, both radical and generation in its aspiration for an architecture of human association".

But ultimately the campaign failed for a second time and the developer Swan Housing Association with the backing of Tower Hamlets council revealed its plans for a new housing estate named Blackwall Reach."

More details: websitewebsite

Docomomo Journal Essay: PDF below

MELON, Aranzazu, "Robin Hood Gardens and the Rehabilitation of Post-War Mass Housing in London" in docomomo Journal, no. 51. Lisboa: docomomo International, 2014