Richard Rogers Calls For Architects To Help Save “exceptional” Robin Hood Gardens

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Architect Richard Rogers has urged the architectural local community to support the preservation of the Brutalist Robin Hood Gardens estate, which he has described as post-war Britain’s most critical social housing improvement.

Rogers and colleague Simon Smithson – the son of Robin Hood Gardens’ architects Alison and Peter Smithson – have sent an open letter to members of the architecture, design and style and building communities calling for them to join the campaign to save the unwell-fated estate, which is scheduled for demolition to make way for a new housing growth.

“In my view, it is the most critical social housing development from the post-war era in Britain,” said Rogers in the text.

Robin Hood Gardens by Alison and Peter Smithson Robin Hood Gardens, photographed in 2014 by Luke Hayes (and main picture)

The letter follows the revival of a large-profile campaign to save the estate, which was backed by hundreds of architects, like Zaha Hadid, Robert Venturi and Toyo Ito.

The United kingdom government granted a 5-12 months immunity from heritage listing in 2009, which means that neighborhood council Tower Hamlets was ready to approve demolition, but that time period has expired. Heritage organisation the Twentieth Century Society has since submitted a new report claiming the decision not to defend the estate the initial time about was misguided.

Rogers and Smithson are now asking buddies and colleagues to support this paper by attractive to Uk culture minister Tracey Crouch to review the selection made by her predecessor, Andy Burnham.

Robin Hood Gardens Historic photograph of the estate

“The buildings, which offer you generously sized flats that could be refurbished, are of excellent architectural good quality and important historic interest, and public appreciation and comprehending of the value of Modernist architecture has grown above the past 5 years, creating the case for listing stronger than ever,” they mentioned.

“Last time listing was regarded as the views of the architectural community have been ignored but we feel there is now a actual opportunity of conserving the developing for posterity but only if the minister hears, very first hand, the views of the occupation on the architectural merits of these excellent buildings.”


Relevant story: The Dezeen guidebook to Brutalist architecture


A statement from Delft University professor Dirk van den Heuvel – a post-war architecture specialist and a foremost authority on Alison and Peter Smithson – is also incorporated in the letter.

He mentioned: “Regardless of the existing state of neglect and abuse, Robin Hood Gardens comprises a uncommon, majestic gesture, the two radical and generous in its aspiration for an architecture of human association. As this kind of it even now sets an illustration for architects close to the world.”

Robin Hood Gardens Historic photograph of the estate

Located in Poplar, east London, Robin Hood Gardens was finished in 1972 by the Smithsons, based mostly on the notion of “streets in the sky”. The estate consists of 213 apartments within two concrete slab blocks, organized both side of a backyard of grass mounds.

Its demolition is planned as part of a housing task led by development organization Swan and supported by Tower Hamlets council.

See the letter in full below:


Dear Friends,

I am writing to inquire you to support listing Robin Hood Gardens as a creating of special architectural interest, in purchase to defend one particular of Britain’s most important submit-war housing tasks, created by Alison and Peter Smithson, from demolition.

Earlier efforts in 2009 to have the developing listed failed, but the case has now been re-opened and we recognize that the new Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage will be reviewing the arguments at the end of this week. The buildings, which supply generously-sized flats that could be refurbished, are of excellent architectural good quality and considerable historic interest, and public appreciation and understanding of the value of modernist architecture has grown over the previous 5 years, creating the case for listing more powerful than ever.

The UK’s 20th Century Society has submitted a paper setting out why they feel Robin Hood Gardens must be listed (i.e. additional it to the statutory checklist of buildings of particular architectural and historical interest). Two additional assessments are set out below:

“Alison and Peter Smithson have been the inventors of the New Brutalism in the 1950s and as this kind of they were the ‘bellwethers of the young’ as Reyner Banham called them. In numerous techniques [Robin Hood Gardens] epitomises the Smithsons’ concepts of housing and city developing. Two sculptural slabs of reasonably priced housing develop the calm and stress free spot amidst the ongoing modernisation of the London cityscape. The facades of precast concrete elements act as screens that negotiate amongst the personal sphere of the individual flats and the collective area of the inner garden and past. The rhythmic composition of vertical fins and horizontal ‘streets-in-the-air’ articulates the Smithsons’ unique proposition of an architectural language that combines social values with modern engineering and material expression. Despite the existing state of neglect and abuse Robin Hood Gardens comprises a rare, majestic gesture, the two radical and generous in its aspiration for an architecture of human association. As such it even now sets an instance for architects all around the world.” – Dr Dirk van den Heuvel, Delft University, Holland.

“The Smithsons were obviously wonderful architects: the Economist Developing, finished in 1964 and Grade I-listed in 1988, is without having a doubt the best modern developing in the historic centre of London. Robin Hood Gardens, which pioneered ‘streets in the air’ to protect the public daily life of the East End terraces that it replaced, was the next massive-scale job that the Smithsons embarked on. It was architecturally and intellectually revolutionary. In my viewpoint, it is the most important social housing advancement from the post-war era in Britain.” – Lord Richard Rogers

Final time listing was regarded the views of the architectural neighborhood have been ignored but we feel there is now a actual opportunity of saving the creating for posterity but only if the Minister hears, initial hand, the views of the profession on the architectural merits of these outstanding buildings.

Can we inquire you to assistance the efforts of the 20th Century Society by creating proper now to the Minster to help listing and saying why you believe Robin Hood Gardens ought to be saved?

Also, can we request you to forward this e-mail to any individual else you know who may be inclined to help conserve these important buildings?

Yours sincerely,

Richard Rogers and Simon Smithson

Dezeen

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