Alison and Peter Smithson
Robin Hood Gardens, Woolmore Street, Poplar E14. Designed by Alison and Peter Smithson for the GLC. Built 1969–72. Unlisted
Fortress-like and monumental, the irregular heavy-cranked blocks that form Robin Hood Gardens face each other across a surprisingly tranquil and verdant green interior space. The monolithic slabs that form a perimeter wall, angled at the top to deflect the traffic noise from the busy surrounding roads, further reinforce the defensive characteristics of the development. The attempts to mitigate traffic sounds are also reflected in the non-uniform fins on the facade. Designed by the Smithsons, this high-density housing was the final built example of urban theories that went back 20 years: in particular, the idea of the ‘street in the sky’. Despite a longstanding campaign to attain listed status, attempts have failed – demolition began in 2018.