Municipal Dreams

What more is there to be said on Robin Hood Gardens?  Its architecture and its planned demolition have inspired voluminous and passionate writing on both sides of the debate – it’s become less a council estate, more a proxy in a cultural war.

This story begins in 1963 – though it stretches back further, of course, in terms of East End housing problems and the visions of politicians, planners and architects in solving them.  Still, in that year, three small areas of land became available to the then London County Council for redevelopment. Alison and Peter Smithson were commissioned to draw up designs for two separate buildings with plans for further which would form ‘one big linked dwelling group’.

Two years later, the Greater London Council decided to demolish the adjacent Grosvenor Buildings – seven private tenement blocks opened in 1885, replacing slums cleared by the Metropolitan Board of Works.  The…

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