The estate will now form part of the £300m Blackwall Reach regeneration project; a joint project between Swan Housing Group and Tower Hamlets Council. The extended site of the project is to replace Robin Hood Gardens’ 214 homes with 1500 in a phased ten-year programme. Half of these are designated ‘affordable’ and we understand there to be more social rented homes than at present. The development promises “high quality new homes across a range of tenures on a unique and challenging site” and to “create a legible and coherent public realm in what is currently a hostile environment”. Early designs met with strongly negative criticism but with new architects there have been changes. The design for the Robin Hood Gardens site now follows closely the plan lines of the original and preserves the central landscape mound.
Certainly Robin Hood Gardens as it stands today is in a state of material decay, brought on by a lack of resource to fully maintain it over all of its forty-four years of life. However, the social problems that beset its early years have now passed. Could a sympathetic refurbishment have addressed its material problems at lower cost than demolishing and replacing it? There will be those who think so and regret the loss of a monument to an era of social architecture.
Instead, the current framework of housing provision demands a different approach and the Blackwall Reach regeneration project promises to provide significantly more homes to modern standards, half of which will be “affordable”.
Will the argument as to whether the right decisions were made continue? Almost certainly; and the final judgement cannot be predicted.
Images reproduced with kind permission of Swan Housing
© 2016 Swan Housing