Robin Hood Gardens Set For Demolition

Robin Hood Gardens, Poplar

The fate of Robin Hood Gardens, a housing estate in Poplar, was sealed this week when Tower Hamlets council’s Strategic Development Committee rubber-stamped its demolition.

Opened in 1972, the estate, formed of two long concrete blocks designed by husband and wife team Alison and Peter Smithson (also responsible for the Economist building in Piccadilly) had become a cause célèbre in recent years, ever since tearing it down was first proposed in 2008. Architects Zaha Hadid and Richard Rogers, and former Guardian architecture critic Jonathan Glancey, joined a campaign by Building Design magazine to save the estate, and it was the subject of an exhibition. However, the decision not to award it listed status sounded the death knell.

For all its Brutalist charm and rigid adherence to the now-outmoded ‘streets in the sky’ concept, Robin Hood Gardens was an easy target for those who call architects hypocrites eager to champion crumbling estates they wouldn’t dare live in themselves. Many of the current residents can’t wait to be rid of it: a consultation in 2008 found that over 75% supported its demolition.

Artist's impression of Blackwall Reach

The site will become part of the wider Blackwall Reach development, part of which can be seen in the above design; it will have 1,000 private flats and 700 earmarked for council residents.

Photo of Robin Hood Gardens by / Neil Clasper

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  • Anonymous

    Wow, the top pic makes it look very sci-fi. Like a giant collection scoop from an asteroid-mining vessel, or something. (Note to self: get some better cultural references.)

    • Dean Nicholas

       Could be a model prop from an early series of Red Dwarf.

  • Kollagen Intensiv

    There’s a vogue amongst the w-anchor classes to go around saving
    “post-war buildings of architectural interest”. Saving them by making
    them grade 2 and 1 listed buildings. 

  • Jean-Michel Genre

    It’s a very eye-catching building. I guess if it has been in a more upmarket area, it could have become another Trelick Tower. Looking at the anonymous rubbish they’re building in its wake, I think it’s a pity more couldn’t be done.

    • Dean Nicholas

      I’m not sure if the area has much relevance. The building behind Robin Hood Gardens in the top picture is Balfron Tower, a slightly shorter version of Trellick, built by Erno Goldfinger a few years before his better-known west London ‘scraper. Goldfinger and his wife lived in the penthouse for a period after its construction. Today it is much like the Trellick in being a mixture of council tenants and architecture / design aficionados.

  • UuOoBb

    I made a short film based on interviews with the residents a couple of months ago:

  • NSFGirls

    it’s a shame it would fit perfectly for a bunch of sci-fi movies…

  • Truth Teller

    Has nobody noticed (no surprise as it’s Tower extremist Islamic enclave)  the artists impression of the new development is almost entirely populated buy Muslims!
    Including numerous headscarf wearing women.
    Look…they are not even trying to hide the future of our country anymore.

    • Me

      But that reflects the local population. Why pretend it’s something different? Are you intimidated by people who place cotton slightly higher on their bodies than a person of English background? How can a local increase in Muslim people be seen as a predictor of the way the country is heading? You might also look at the increase in US/Canadian citizens in London and assume the whole Uk will become the 51st state. Truth is, our city has always supported waves of immigration, none of which ever dominate the city, but all of which add layers of richness that can be enjoyed and celebrated by those open-minded enough to give them room.

      • Truth Teller

        Yeeeess….We’ve all enjoyed all that Islam has given us! How richer we are!

        Parades in London with “God Bless Hitler” signs, “Islam will dominate the World” signs and all our favourite..”Behead those that insult Islam”.
        Oh…and our first ever suicide bombings, multiple other attacks/attempted attacks, burnt down book publishers, Non-Muslim no go areas, Poppy burning, war memorial desecration, increased religious indoctrination of children.  

        How we give praise for all these layers of richness.

        And how we smile at those wonderful Islamic ghettos with their child brides, female circumcision, honour killings, veiled children, God-blessed spousal abuse, multiple wives, extremist mosques, RSPCA condemned Halal butchery, terrorist hang outs, ‘Gay Free’ zones, Sharia courts and rampant first cousin in-breeding that costs the NHS millions.So rich! So welcome!

        • may

          last time i went to london i got mugged by a ginger, blue-eyed 16-year-old. i told the police to go look through nearby madrasahs, 

  • Johnv

    hmmm, you should check your sources. actually 75% of the people that live there said that they DO NOT wanted to leave and that it was clear that this was just being fone for ECONOMIC reasons. that area is becoming TOO VALUABLE for having social housing… it’s just the pressure of the construction lobby working.

  • Teri

    Are they pulling down the houses at the front too? I used to live there.