| Pending Demolition | Robin Hood Gardens Estate

The Robin Hood Gardens Estate has been ruffling feathers and causing frowns in the world of architecture. This grimy imposing concrete monstrosity/beauty was built  in the 60's by the husband and wife architect team the Smithsons to provide social housing with all the misguided/brilliant intentions of Le Corbusier's Unité d'Habitation. The result is this example of Brutalist architecture now rubber-stamped for demolition.

There are those that want to save the estate and preserve it as a historical landmark. Starchitects like Richard Rogers and Zaha Hadid would like to see the building saved. On the flip-side of the debate are the residents who actually live here, 75% of which support the demolition. 

Hiro is a fan of Brutalist architecture. He is also completely, peculiarly infatuated with high-rise council estates and is well on his way to becoming a bit of an expert in this curious field.  This is why we spent Sunday mooching a housing estate. It is easy for him to see some beauty and wonderment here.

Hiro's opinion; "I totally understand and agree that residents should have a say in the outcome of the estate but it is important to preserve beautiful architecture. I feel a rennovation project which retained the external appearence of the building would have been a better option, even though it would be much cheaper to knock it down and start afresh"

For me, this is a bruck-down, grimy block that is stuck by a big stinking road that makes it quite depressing and I am sure that many of the residents will be really pleased to be offered new homes. At the same time, the Barbican Estate, shares the same Brutalist council housing roots as this and look how that turned out. Knocking Robin Hood Gardens down and building swanky apartments will just make it a dumb-ass, soulless block by a big stinking road and even more depressing and I think we SHOULD protect our Brutalist buildings. 


  1. I kind of think they should restore it. I understand people wanting to move away from this and maybe to something a bit more happy and in a better state, but sometimes repairing something is just as good as knocking it down and starting over. There are memories here that can be preserved as well. But, I suppose if you live there, your opinion should be at the top. It's hard to decide really. Something worse looking could end up there if they knock it down and start again. Maybe they should let the people that live there have a say in what it would look like, not that this would happen, but it could be a good option. I love buildings.

    1. I agree that trying to save something could be worthwhile. I wonder if these Starchitects would put their money where their mouth is try put themselves forward for the job and swallow their fees? Probably not! The building is in a bad state though so maybe it is cheaper to knock it down...yet that seems so wasteful! There is something telling about the big banks overlooking the estate though...they have it in their sights. Probably so they can be bought by people who have no intention of living in them and they will lie empty while so many people need affordable homes. Fucked up world!

  2. What haunting & beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing this curious penchant of Hiro's. I read a bit about Brutalist Architecture, that picture with you looking at the building (second to last) is quite place-less. It could have been taken in England, Berlin, or maybe even Japan? So tragic about the renovation v.s. demolition dilemma..

  3. These buildings are so sad. They need love, attention, care, a little bit of makeup. I am asking myself what kind of people live in these buildings? Are they sad, too? Multicultural? New immigrants? The other face of London...the sad face. :(


  4. when's it due for demolition? I've not actually heard of this place before but have found memories walking round the barbican with my friend, taking many a photo. think they're on my blog somewhere but i'm sure you have tons of your own.

    It's interesting that the residents want out, I guess it might not be a great way of living, being so close in to hundreds of others. This road can't help either. Keep us updated, I'm genuinely interested.


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