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Hodge refuses to list Robin Hood Gardens

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Calls to have the Smithsons' Robin Hood Gardens estate in East London listed have failed.

Architecture Minister Margaret Hodge said she was in complete agreement with English Heritage that the 210-home concrete housing estate in Tower Hamlets – built between 1966 and 1972 – was not a fit place for people to live.

Although many famous architectural names had thrown their weight behind the listing bid in an attempt to save the building from demolition by English Partnerships, Hodge was not swayed by claims that the building was ‘innovative in terms of the streets in the air’.

However the minster admitted the decision had been hard.

She said: ‘This has been a tough and finely balanced case which has rightly been considered openly and with great care. I have received expert advice and opinion from a number of sources and was shown round the estate a few days ago to see it for myself, both inside and out.

She added: ‘The architects' brief was to design a place fit for people to live, of course. But in that respect, I agree with my expert advisors English Heritage, that it simply doesn't work.

‘When functional failures are fundamental, it raises questions about the architectural performance of the building and thus its claims to special interest. As well as this, features such as the stairwells and the boundary wall demonstrate the "bleakness of design" that the experts have highlighted.

Hodge concluded: ‘Although I accept that it was designed by distinguished architects, I do not think that their reputation outweighs the evidence that Robin Hood Gardens was not innovative in terms of the "streets-in-the-air" concept and it is not fit for purpose.’

It is unclear whether a legal challenge will be made against the decision.

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