Simon Jenkins had an interesting article in Friday’s Guardian, discussing the Royal Institute of British Architects’ campaign to ‘save’ the Robin Hood Gardens estate from demolition.
Robin Hood Gardens (pictured above) was designed by Peter and Alison Smithson, and was an ‘icon of 1960s New Brutalism’ – which is why architectural luminaries like Lord Rogers and Lord Foster want it preserved. But I’m with Jenkins’ on this one: if they want it preserved then they should put up the cash to buy and restore it. Otherwise, tear it down.
The residents would certainly welcome such a move. As Aktar Hussain, the Vice chairman of the residents’ association, said: “All these high-minded people who want these flats to stay should actually try to live in them – it’s not fun, it’s tough. They don’t know what they’re talking about, it’s hell…”
Which really points to the problem with these buildings. They were built according to the tastes of town planners and architects, with little or no regard for the people who would actually have to live there. They were both an expression and a symptom of socialist ideology. Or as the East London Pevsner guide puts it: “ill-planned to the point of inhumane.”