Britain’s architectural elite are going head-to-head with Tower Hamlets Council over the planned demolition of a Brutalist-era housing estate.
The 213-apartment Robin Hood Gardens is set to be set to be razed to the ground to make room for a £500 million redevelopment.
The dilapidated site in Poplar has a ‘stigma’ attached to it according to some residents.
But high-profile members of the architectural community, led by Lord Richard Rogers and the Twentieth Century Society, have launched a last-ditch effort to stop the redevelopment which will see the end of Robin Hood Gardens.
Architects including Robert Venturi, Toyo Ito and Zaha Hadid have rallied round in support of the campaign. Completed in 1972, Robin Hood Gardens was designed around the concept of ‘streets in the sky’ by controversial New Brutalism pioneers Alison and Peter Smithson.
Centre Pompidou architect Lord Rogers has written to 300 members of the design world asking them to lobby heritage minister Tracey Crouch to give the site listed status, a bid English Heritage rejected in 2009.
Rogers wrote: “In my opinion, it is the most important social housing development from the post-war era in Britain.
“Two sculptural slabs of affordable housing create a calm and stress-free place amidst the ongoing modernisation of the London cityscape.”
Lord Rogers told BBC’s Today programme that he would “absolutely” live on Robin Hood Gardens himself, and has blamed the council for the neglecting the building.
In 2009, the site was given immunity from heritage listing for five years, a decision the Twentieth Century Society has called “unsound” in a recent report.
This immunity expired this year, and Tower Hamlets Council has approved demolition and a £500 million redevelopment by Swan Housing Association, which promises 1,575 homes, and a new mosque and community centre.
The vast concrete blocks have been criticised for a range of flaws in design and maintenance alike.
Residents have complained of awkward layouts, asbestos and leaky ceilings.
But Rogers and some residents insist that neglect by council is at fault for the poor upkeep of Robin Hood Gardens.
Resident Ruman Chowdury, 42, told the Telegraph: “The council just doesn’t maintain the building. The whole area is neglected.”
The council has said its consultation concluded 80 per cent support for the redevelopment.
A council spokesperson said: “Redevelopment was the overwhelming preference of the local community.”