Last Friday I went down to see the designs proposed by the two teams in the running to demolish and rebuild Robin Hood Gardens and its surrounding area – known collectively as Blackwall Reach. (See article here in Building Design).
The area outlined in red above is the regeneration area. You can see the existing Robin Hood Gardens in the middle, with the large green area separating the two buildings designed by Alison and Peter Smithson.
The site is pretty much an urban island, to the south is the Docklands Light Railway, to the west is Cotton Street – a pretty grim major road that is currently cut off from the estate by a huge concrete wall – and to the east is the Blackwall Tunnell Northern Approach Road. I think the name just about says it all, it’s not a friendly place.
When I arrived at the pubic exhibition, organised by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets together with the Homes & Communities Agenc, it wasn’t too busy. Though I believe they had quite a bit of interest over the four hours (!!) it was open.
Between them the clients have condemned the Smithson’s buildings to be demolished. Robin Hood Gardens was granted with immunity from listing after successfull campaigning from the council.
The first plans I looked at were Swan Housing and Countryside Properties, who worked with masterplanners Aedas. Architecture firms Jestico & Whiles and Glenn Howells will be drawing up detailed design of individual buildings.
They are proposing to build 1,621 new dwellings.
This is a view from the northern end of the site. The tall tower at the far end will stand at 42 storeys.
This is the view looking along the tunnel approach road.
And this is the area where the current buildings stand.