Friday, March 7, 2008

70s architecture

the Robin Hood Gardens in E. London have become the center of a dispute regarding whether or not the architecture of the 1970's should be viewed as an aesthetic success or failure. i really do think its a modernist masterpiece.

Top architects in fight to save East End block of flats

Sri Carmichael, Evening Standard

Leading architects are fighting to save a dilapidated concrete council block from demolition because they think it is reminiscent of the Royal Crescent in Bath.

Figures including Richard Rogers, who designed Heathrow's Terminal 5, and Jonathan Glancey are backing a campaign to save Robin Hood Gardens, near the north end of the Blackwall Tunnel in Tower Hamlets.

They claim the block, designed in 1972 by husband and wife team Peter and Alison Smithson, is a modernist masterpiece. But others disagree, with most of its 400-plus residents wanting it razed to the ground.

Vice chairman of the residents' association and marketing director Aktar Hussain, 25, said: "All these high-minded people who want these flats to stay should actually try to live in them - it's not fun, it's tough. They don't know what they're talking about, it's hell, an easy place to feel threatened.

"The majority of us want this place demolished. We want something better. The building's in a terrible condition and its probably going to fall down on it's own if it's not pulled down."

English Heritage is considering whether the estate should be listed as a site of historical interest. It is due to give its recommendation to the Government within the next two months.

Lord Rogers has written to Culture Secretary Andy Burnham demanding the structure be protected. At the end of last month, he wrote: "It is as good, if not better, than any modern building in Britain. If one looks beyond the present condition of the landscape and the building of Robin Hood Gardens, one can still see the original concept which combined a heroic scale with beautiful, human proportions," he said.

"The siting of the building around an elegant man-made mound creates a harmonious, spacious enclosure reminiscent of the great Georgian crescents and squares of Bath.

"It would be a tragedy and a mistake to demolish this important and extraordinary piece of modern architecture."

Local MP and Culture Minister Margaret Hodge claimed it was too costly to refurbish and should be destroyed to make room for better housing.

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