Architectural model of Robin Hood Gardens, Poplar, London, by Alison and Peter Smithson, 1970 thumbnail 1
Architectural model of Robin Hood Gardens, Poplar, London, by Alison and Peter Smithson, 1970 thumbnail 2
+12
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Design 1900 to Now, Room 74

This object consists of 2 parts, some of which may be located elsewhere.

Architectural model of Robin Hood Gardens, Poplar, London, by Alison and Peter Smithson, 1970

Architectural Model
1970
Artist/Maker

The model
The model is a site layout of the two blocks and central green space of Robin Hood Gardens, a social housing project in East London; the first of the blocks demolished in 2018. The model was created to illustrate the scheme in a 30-minute BBC documentary ‘The Smithsons on Housing’ in 1970, produced by B.S. Johnson. It was made outside the Smithson office, commissioned from the architect Jeremy Dixon (now Sir Jeremy Dixon, born 1939), who had previously worked for a short period for the Smithsons. Composed of built-up and glued millimetre ply, and set on a blockboard base, the model has been finished in silver and metallised green car paint on a white primer that gives the surface a gloss sheen.

Alison + Peter Smithson, architects
Wife and husband Alison (1928 –1993) and Peter Smithson (1923 –2003) formed an architectural partnership that led British New Brutalism (often simply called Brutalism) through the latter half of the twentieth century. The Smithsons first came to prominence with Hunstanton School, Norfolk, 1949-54, a stripped down Miesian structure which was rough and ready in appearance, a challenge to the sleek and smooth Modernism admired at the time. In 1956, with Eduardo Paolozzi and Nigel Henderson, they created an installation in the influential This is Tomorrow exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, showing found objects, a comment on fractured space. The same year they created The House of the Future in an exhibition.

The Smithsons were great design rebels, writing and lecturing worldwide on their views; the older generation are still divided over the Smithsons’ legacy, the younger generation consider them heroes of the architectural age. Their politics and dogma gained them few commissions for architects of their stature, but did include the highly praised Economist Building in St James’s, London (1959-65). The Robin Hood Estate is their ultimate and only built statement on social housing.

Robin Hood Gardens
Robin Hood Gardens is located in the southeast quarter of Poplar, on a difficult site sided on the east with the northern Blackwall Tunnel approach, and on the west with the busy trunk road bordering the north-eastern corner of Canary Wharf. Commissioned by the Greater London Council (GLC), Alison and Peter Smithson instituted their ideas on social housing which they had been widely known for since the early 1950s, particularly ‘the building as street’: flats accessed by wide access decks where residents could meet. The exterior was a precast concrete system from Sweden, assembled on-site. The first of the two blocks was completed about 1970, the whole estate by 1972.


object details
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Architectural Model
  • Architectural Model
Materials and Techniques
Painted wood, in acrylic case
Brief Description
Architectural model of Robin Hood Gardens, Poplar, London by Alison and Peter Smithson. Housing estate. With acrylic case lid for architectural model.
Dimensions
  • Length: 660mm (Note: dimension of model withouth case)
  • Width: 660mm
  • Height: 110cm
Gallery Label
New ideas for new city spaces In his influential 1923 book ‘Vers une architecture’, architect Le Corbusier observed that different public spaces were emerging in the urban environment. After the Second World War, recreational areas and car parks popped up across cities and became important additions to new towns like Milton Keynes and housing developments. The architectural model for Robin Hood Gardens shows the inclusion of green space around the 1970s east London housing estate. Manifesto for modern architecture ‘Vers une architecture’ (Toward an Architecture), 1924 (printed about 1925) By Le Corbusier Published by Editions Georges Crès & Cie, printed by Imprimerie E. Arrault et Cie, France Printed paper Museum no. 38041800996993 Poster advertising a new town ‘Where is Milton Keynes?’, 1973 Designed by Minale, Tattersfield and Provinciali Issued by Westerham Press, UK Colour offset lithograph on paper Given by Minale Tattersfield & Partners Museum no. E.175-2011 Model showing central green space Robin Hood Gardens Estate, 1970 Designed by Alison and Peter Smithson, UK Painted wood Museum no. CD.12:1-2018 The object sits in the 'Housing and Living' section of the Design 1900-Now gallery opened in June 2021.(2021)
Summary
The model

The model is a site layout of the two blocks and central green space of Robin Hood Gardens, a social housing project in East London; the first of the blocks demolished in 2018. The model was created to illustrate the scheme in a 30-minute BBC documentary ‘The Smithsons on Housing’ in 1970, produced by B.S. Johnson. It was made outside the Smithson office, commissioned from the architect Jeremy Dixon (now Sir Jeremy Dixon, born 1939), who had previously worked for a short period for the Smithsons. Composed of built-up and glued millimetre ply, and set on a blockboard base, the model has been finished in silver and metallised green car paint on a white primer that gives the surface a gloss sheen.



Alison + Peter Smithson, architects

Wife and husband Alison (1928 –1993) and Peter Smithson (1923 –2003) formed an architectural partnership that led British New Brutalism (often simply called Brutalism) through the latter half of the twentieth century. The Smithsons first came to prominence with Hunstanton School, Norfolk, 1949-54, a stripped down Miesian structure which was rough and ready in appearance, a challenge to the sleek and smooth Modernism admired at the time. In 1956, with Eduardo Paolozzi and Nigel Henderson, they created an installation in the influential This is Tomorrow exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, showing found objects, a comment on fractured space. The same year they created The House of the Future in an exhibition.



The Smithsons were great design rebels, writing and lecturing worldwide on their views; the older generation are still divided over the Smithsons’ legacy, the younger generation consider them heroes of the architectural age. Their politics and dogma gained them few commissions for architects of their stature, but did include the highly praised Economist Building in St James’s, London (1959-65). The Robin Hood Estate is their ultimate and only built statement on social housing.



Robin Hood Gardens

Robin Hood Gardens is located in the southeast quarter of Poplar, on a difficult site sided on the east with the northern Blackwall Tunnel approach, and on the west with the busy trunk road bordering the north-eastern corner of Canary Wharf. Commissioned by the Greater London Council (GLC), Alison and Peter Smithson instituted their ideas on social housing which they had been widely known for since the early 1950s, particularly ‘the building as street’: flats accessed by wide access decks where residents could meet. The exterior was a precast concrete system from Sweden, assembled on-site. The first of the two blocks was completed about 1970, the whole estate by 1972.

Collection
Accession Number
CD.12-2018

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record createdNovember 17, 2017
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