Futures Found

I’m looking forward to our exhibition Futures Found:  The Real and Imagined Cityscapes of Post-War Britain which opens at the RA on Saturday.   Meanwhile, I have been enjoying the book Lost Futures which accompanies it.   It’s written by Owen Hopkins, formerly of the RA, now of the Soane Museum, about post-war buildings which have been demolished.   I can’t mourn the loss of the Freemasons Estate in Newham which contained Ronan Point, where a small explosion in the kitchen of a cake decorator led to a collapse in the side of the building and loss of life (but not of the cake decorator, who survived).   Nor do I miss the Stifford Estate, which occupied the site of Stepney Green Park, now being excavated for Crossrail.   The big losses look to be Robin Hood Gardens, still there, but only just, due apparently to be demolished at the end of this month;  and Gillespie, Kidd & Coia’s Seminary at Cardross which is now due to be preserved as a dramatic ruin, like The Grange.


2 thoughts on “Futures Found

  1. Sue Benjamins says:

    I am quite baffled at the fondness in some quarters for Robin Hood Gardens. Whatever the original design intent, the architects cannot surely have envisaged the current built environment there? The “valley” of the approach to the Blackwall Tunnel; the monolithic ugliness of the glass fronted offices and “techno warehouses” opposite — not to mention the brutality and lack of human scale of the residents’ blocks of Robin Hood Gardens…and no doubt a crying need for unaffordable and impractical home improvements internally. No doubt readers here can enlighten me? Have any of you experienced life on such an estate? Or even worked on one?

    • It’s surely because of its scale and sense of political and social, as well as purely architectural, ambition, however flawed as it turned out to be. And because it’s by the Smithsons, two of the most important postwar architects. Charles

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