25th Jul 2018 — Robin Hood Gardens Retrospective

Robin Hood Gardens Retrospective

In light of the recent Premiere of the film ‘The Disappearance of Robin Hood’, we reflect on several seminars and studies associated with the iconic social housing scheme with which our office has had an involvement.

Designed by Alison and Peter Smithson and completed in 1970, Robin Hood Gardens is a significant example of brutalist housing. The scheme has faced multiple issues from early vandalism to a more recent battle for listed building protection arising from the threat of demolition. Following two failed attempts to gain listed status, demolition began in 2017.


The Disappearance of Robin Hood

A film by the Urban-Think Tank

Premiered on the 28th June 2018, the documentary was shown almost a year after demolition of Robin Hood Gardens began. It illustrates the concepts and character of both the building and the community, contextualising the project within the larger housing crisis in London today.

A roundtable discussion followed the screening, involving Professor Alfredo Brillembourg of KTH, Zurich, filmmaker Klearjos Eduardo Papanicolaou, Sarah Wigglesworth and Simon Smithson (partner at Roger Stirk Harbour+Partners and son of Peter and Alison Smithson).

Watch an excerpt of the film here.


The Case of Robin Hood Gardens

A seminar held by UCL Urban Laboratory.

Held on the 22nd June 2015, this talk encapsulated a variety of arguments for the scheme to receive listed status. Alan Powers, Catherine Croft both of the 20th Century Society and Sarah Wigglesworth contributed to the discussion, covering some of the causes and effects of the decision-making process. Historic England ultimately refused to recommend the estate for listing later on in 2015.

Listen to the full seminar here.


Robin Hood Gardens, Exploring a Sustainable Future

A study and presentation by SWA

Sarah Wigglesworth Architects came forward in October 2010 to offer the 20th Century Society help in raising awareness of the potential for the reuse and refurbishment of Robin Hood Gardens. Our project placed an emphasis on ensuring the sustainability of the design in all its forms; social, economic and resource sustainability.

This translated to three studies, which are illustrated in the images below:

  1. an exercise in exploring a wider range of dwelling sizes within the parameters of the existing structural logic of RHG [social sustainability]
  2. an exercise in densification, by the provision of additional dwelling units on the site [economic sustainability]
  3. an exercise seeing what improvements in energy consumption are achievable by simple adaptations to the thermal envelope. [resource sustainability]

Download the full presentation examining alternative approaches to the future of Robin Hood Gardens below.

Exploring a Sustainable Future | A study to examine the social sustainability of the scheme
Exploring a Sustainable Future | A study to examine the resource sustainability of the scheme
Exploring a Sustainable Future | A study to examine the economic sustainability of the scheme