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 capitalisation, loss of affordable units in London, loss of an iconic housing project, redevelopment vs refurbishment and the problem of blaming the projects instead of runing-down estates as in many cases it is a problem of factoring 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 be 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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Sneaky Privatisation: Pseudo-public Spaces

A Guardian investigation revealed the expansion of pseudo-public spaces in London recently.

Pseudo-public spaces – large squares, parks and thoroughfares that appear to be public but are actually owned and controlled by developers and their private backers – are on the rise in London and many other British cities, as local authorities argue they cannot afford to create or maintain such spaces themselves.

Although they are seemingly accessible to members of the public and have the look and feel of public land, these sites – also known as privately owned public spaces or “Pops” – are not subject to ordinary local authority bylaws but rather governed by restrictions drawn up the landowner and usually enforced by private security companies. (Guardian)

The map demonstrates the locations and distribution of these spaces in London. It lists 46 known pseudo-public spaces in the city. The expansion of these areas is quite widespread within the city boundaries.

This is a critical issue regarding the role of public spaces in socialisation as well as citizen’s right to access to open spaces. These privately-owned spaces are accessed by the discretion of the landowners as well as controlled by the private security staff in some cases, which means that the use of the space and the behaviours within these spaces are also under control by some rules other than laws or common legislations.

It gets interesting when 12 other cities, including Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Leeds and Glasgow, rejected revealing the information about the pseudo-public spaces located ion these cities. This poses a question of the level of expansion of these spaces. It also poses another, and even more critical question regarding the production and perception of public space:

Is pseudo-public space becoming a mainstream way of public space provision in the UK?