A Home in A London Museum: Robin Hood Gardens’ Legacy

It is not news that Robin Hood Gardens in London is being demolished and redeveloped. The discussion behind has many sides such as redevelopment in favour of capital accumulation, loss of affordable units in London, loss of an iconic housing project, redevelopment vs refurbishment and the issues of blaming the social housing projects for the problems coused by factoring problems rather than spatial design issues.

Victoria and Albert Museum decided to exhibit a part of Robin Hood Garden. The move is interesting and eeri at the same time.

… a 26-foot-high chunk of the building, comprising one duplex apartment, will now enjoy a strange second life. It’s going to be scraped off the building’s carcass and preserved in the Victoria and Albert Museum, Britain’s national art and design collection, where it will go on display in the public galleries (possibly in an East London branch that’s due to open in 2021). A remnant of Britain’s great 20th century social housing experiment will end up not as somewhere to live, but as a museum exhibit. (CityLab)

The Museum will exhibit the part at the Venice Architecture Biennale by reessembling it for a Biennale exhibition. The curator of the exhibition also points out the strange way of exhibiting an architectural piece:

Olivia Horsfall Turner, co-curator of the exhibit, said she expected it to stop people in their tracks. “It is obviously something that is very strange – it will look quite bizarre to see this fragment in Venice less than 50 years after it was constructed.” But she hoped it would prompt people to look again at the architects’ original ideals and how “they can inform and inspire current thinking”. (Guardian)

The Robin Hood Gardens, 2010 (Image Credit: David Levene / Guardian)

As O’Sullivan put clearly, this is far from being a conservation attempt:

At least the V&A’s façade plan will preserve some partial memory of what the place looked like—and maybe spark some debate—even as it serves to embody the evisceration of London’s public housing. But conserving a building’s skin while destroying its heart isn’t historic preservation. It’s taxidermy. (CityLab)

 

 

(Image Credit: Architectural Journal)

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The Alexandra Road Estate: An Interesting Experiment

The Alexandra Road Estate: An Interesting Experiment

Municipal Dreams

In the sixties, London was swinging and Harold Wilson had promised a new Britain forged in the ‘white heat’ of a technological revolution.  That may have been hype but something of it resonates when you look at Camden’s Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate – Alexandra Road or even Rowley Way to its friends.  There was hope in the air and Camden was well placed to capture it.

The Metropolitan Borough of Camden was formed in 1964 and comprised the former boroughs of Hampstead, Holborn and St Pancras – respectively intellectual, wealthy and radical. It was also the third richest borough in London in terms of rateable value.(1)  Add the politics of a young  and ambitious Labour council, for whom ‘the main aim was more housing – beginning and end’ and conscious of its flagship role, and that made for some of the most exciting council housing of modern times.(2)

Rowley Way © Martin Charles Rowley Way in…

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Land and Housing Supply: It’s About More Than Just Build out Rates

We have started a new project at CaCHE on housing supply and its discontents in the UK:

Perhaps one of the biggest political and societal challenges of our time is housing supply. Even the UK Government thinks the housing market is broken and our biggest housebuilders say they alone won’t be able to deliver the number of homes necessary to meet policy ambitions. In England, the growing lag between planning approvals and housing completions is given as one explanation for the sluggish speed of housing delivery and is of increasing political and popular interest. Yet, build out rates form only one part of a much more complex set of processes that determine the speed and mode of speculative housing delivery. How housebuilders interact with land markets, make product selection choices and manage construction programmes are also likely to influence supply outcomes. …

It is for these reasons that we have chosen to focus our exemplar project on a systematic review of existing evidence around how the speculative housing supply system currently works and consider the limitations to its current operation. In doing so, we will be able to evaluate whether, and to what extent, the speculative housebuilding industry is able to address new demands in the supply side of the housing market and reflect on how policy solutions brought forward to address housing supply problems have been effective or otherwise. (CaCHE)

To read the details of the project, click here.

Follow CaCHE blog and stay tuned!

UK Housing Crisis: (Anti)Social Housing Associations’ New Low

UK housing crisis is not news for many living in the UK and also for many working on housing. It is mostly discussed as a problem of deficiency of the quantity of housing: There is not enough number of houses, soo let’s build more and more. However, it is not just quantity, but the quality of housing, especially newly built ones are crumbling as well.

 

According to Guardian investigation, people living in housing projects built by Catalyst, Sanctuary, Notting Hill Housing, Wandle, and the One Housing Group raised that major maintenance issues are not tackled such as damp,  rat infestation, the lifts left broken for a week or so, security failures, and no hot water.

The situation getting worse when hearing more stories from people living in houses built and run by housing associations:

“When we moved in, we turned on the taps in the kitchen sink and water flooded everywhere, including into the flat below us. And the boiler went almost immediately. We’d be without hot water for two, three weeks at a time. At one point, three flats would give each other their kettles so we could run ourselves a bath.” (Guardian)

Orchard Village has been the focus of hundreds of complaints from its residents. These include extensive leaks, damp and mould, staircases that have come away from walls, broken heating systems, inadequate fire-proofing and absent insulation. People are also concerned about alleged high levels of methane and hydrogen sulphide, which some claim may have had a direct impact on their health. (Harris)

Residents have a dossier of problems drawn from more than 50 homes: “holes in roof of landings”, “mould in bedroom”, “balcony door broken”, “cold house”, “lawn dying after no drainage installed”, “no fire break in between properties”. Some annual heating and hot water bills are said to be three times more than people were led to expect. There are also endless claims about treatment of residents by Circle and its contractors: “Waited three years for repair of stairs”; “staff ignore telephone conversations”; “no response to complaints”. (Guardian)

The problems have roots in the public-private characteristics of housing associations which are promoted as a ‘third-way’ solution. The associations are supported by public money, however, act as private developers. Kind of best of both, aren’t they? Well, the result is low quality and unhealthy buildings, nearly non-maintenance, and angry residents.

Note: Guardian is still continuing the investigation on problems in the housing schemes developed by housing associations. If you experience one refer to the link.

Beauté Brut: The Alexandra Road, London

Alexandra Road Estate

Architectural Press Archive / RIBA Library Photographs Collection

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Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate 7, South Hampstead, London, Neave Brown, Camden Council’s Architects Department, 1972-1979 Photo: Simon Phipps:

Residents on the Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate have made a documentary film exploring the ideas behind the design of their landmark estate and in the process interviewed neighbours, the architect who designed the estate and others. An intergenerational group of residents worked with arts and educational charity, digital:works, to decide on themes and questions to explore. Throughout the production the residents learnt practical film making skills, conducted interviews and operated the camera and sound.
Rowley Way speaks for itself. (rowleyway.org.uk)

Image Credits: bdonline, municipaldreams, greatbuildings, camden50alexandraandainsworthlondon-architecturenew-brutalism

FOURWALLS -Short Films About London Housing Crisis

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FOURWALLS Project asked people to shoot their own short films about housing conditions and crisis in London.

 

FOURWALLS Short Film Project will showcase the reality of housing in London through the medium of film. A jury of housing and film industry experts, from architects to filmmakers, chaired by David Lammy MP, will shortlist the best short films to premiere at the London Short Film Festival in January 2015. Fourwalls-London

 

Here are the finalists 🙂 My favourite is the last one 🙂 Enjoy!

 

Estate of Living (by Tania Willis & Alice Rhodes)

 

Cody Dock (by Mattias Pettersson)

 

In Ur Eye (by Ayo Akingbade)

 

John (by Jessica Bishopp)

 

Crispin (by Nick Shaw / 1000Londoners)

 

Matryoshka Living (by Madeleine Sims-Fewer & Nathan Hughes Berry)

 

At Their Mercy (by Tim Band)

 

The Girl Room (by Hanna Mansson)

 

Squat! (by Matt Mead)

 

London (by Lewis Knaggs)