[FIRST LOOK + PLANS] Karakusevic Carson Architects has submitted plans for this 242-home, three block scheme at Robin Hood Gardens, east London
The ‘robust brick buildings’ – officially phase 1B of the Blackwall Reach Regeneration – will replace warehouses to the south of Alison and Peter Smithsons’ famous Brutalist housing estate.
The first of the 1972 ‘streets in the sky’ buildings – the west block – will not be flattened until after permission for phase 2 is approved. Demolition work has been scheduled for late 2016.
The scheme is backed by Swan Housing Group, the GLA and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets (AJ 06.06.13).
Last year Metropolitan Workshop Architects and Jestico + Whiles were appointed to review and ‘refine’ the Horden Cherry Lee and Aedas-designed masterplan for the wider 7.7-hectare site, which won outline planning in March 2012.
The architect’s view
Nicholas Ecob, Associate at Karakusevic Carson
‘Our proposals will create a strong sense of arrival at Blackwall DLR station and create a key link to the wider masterplan to the north. The Phase 1B proposals are intended to establish a benchmark of quality both for the remaining phases of the Blackwall Reach Regeneration project as well as surrounding emerging developments.
‘Our approach has been to use the new buildings to create and define a legible series of high-quality public spaces which cater for both existing and new residents within the area. The buildings have been considered as a family of robust brick buildings which engage with the area’s fragmented heritage context and can age gracefully over time.’
Previous story (AJ 06.06.13)
Metropolitan Workshop and Jestico + Whiles land Robin Hood Gardens revamp
Metropolitan Workshop Architects and Jestico + Whiles have won the competition to design a replacement for Alison and Peter Smithson’s soon-to-be-demolished Robin Hood Gardens estate in Tower Hamlets
The practices were chosen from more than 30 entrants, including the likes of Mossessian & Partners and Studio Egret West, to land phase two of the £500 million Blackwall Reach Regeneration Project.
This stage will controversially see the Brutalist western block of the 1972 ‘streets in the sky’ council housing scheme flattened to make way for 239 new homes.
In a joint statement addressing the expected criticism from those who regard the Smithsons’ buildings as ‘iconic’ and adaptable to re-use, Metropolitan Workshop partner Neil Deely and Jestico + Whiles’ Eoin Keating said: ‘We respect, as others do, the Smithson’s legacy and what they have contributed to British architecture. We are aware of the campaign to save Robin Hood Gardens and have sympathy with those views.
‘[But] the buildings are now immune from listing, the project has planning approval to proceed and the first phase is under way, there seems little point in looking backwards. The local residents and the local authority desperately want improvements at Blackwall Reach and these voices should not be disregarded.’
The team said the project tackled some ‘very challenging urban environments created over the past 50 years’ and offered a ‘major opportunity to repair some of the physical and social isolation caused by the late 20th century’.
Chosen by project backers, Swan Housing Association, the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and the Greater London Authority (GLA), the duo will also review and ‘refine’ the entire Horden Cherry Lee and Aedas-designed masterplan for the wider 7.7-hectare site, which won outline planning in March 2012.
In addition, the development team has appointed Karakusevic Carson to deliver phase 1b of the scheme, which includes 245 mostly private homes.
In 2008 then architecture minister Margaret Hodge refused to list the Smithsons’ buildings, agreeing with English Heritage that the concrete housing estate was not a fit place for people to live in.