A defining moment in post-war British architecture, Robin Hood Gardens was an architectural experiment designed by Alison and Peter Smithson. Completed in 1972, two precast concrete residential blocks enclose a central green space. Unusual for a building of this vintage, they have no community facilities, resulting in public spaces that lack activity and animation.
The proposal rectifies these through a series of interventions. Multiple punctures into the existing facade break the repetitive cellular arrangement of the apartment units. These large void spaces are the core of the regeneration since they house functions designed to encourage social interaction.
A group of paths is derived from the geometry of the buildings and expressed as cuts through the existing contoured landscape. These not only bring a more human scale to the space, but also include a principal “main street” oriented east/west and lined with retail units. Like the façade, the others paths are punctuated with spaces that provide a variety of outdoor places for play and community interaction. A new network of uninterrupted pedestrian connections with two decks not only isolates the noise and pollution emitted by the vehicles below but also provides pedestrian routes that link the new DLR station through the communal spaces to the existing network of streets.
The project retains and celebrates the existing buildings as the central element in a more extensive Blackwell Regeneration Development.