Recently I paid a visit to E14’s dear-old, diminishing friend – the Robin Hood Gardens estate – with my trusty Nikon in-hand. What once stood as a proud icon of Brutalist Britain now crumbles in the bionic mouths of the JCBs, diggers and bulldozers that patrol its quarters.
The cloud-filled sky perfectly embodied the mood surrounding the demolition site. The scene almost did not deserve to see the sun. Families walked past as the destruction progressed, children glancing innocently, adults thoughtfully watching.
The destruction of one of London’s most remarkable estates began back in August 2017 after attempts to have the buildings listed as a historical landmark were rejected. Though it is sad to see the destruction of a unique site which had housed thousands, this is not your typical case of social cleansing.
Redevelopment plans have still met some resistance. The Eastern block remains standing and it is still inhabited, but is due for demolition in 2019 giving tenants around a year to vacate.
The site, once levelled, is set to be overlaid by the Blackwall Reach – a new housing and community project spanning Poplar, Blackwall and East India. This will introduce 1,575 new homes (an increase of 1,300) as well as providing improvements to the local school, amenities and community spaces.
Forty-five percent of the new homes being introduced will be both ‘affordable’ and dedicated to social and council housing, meaning that locals should not have to relocate permanently. Though, how affordable they will be, is not yet clear….