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V&A museum saves portion of Brutalist icon under demolition

To be reborn as an exhibition?

Robin Hood Gardens Photo via Dezeen

London’s iconic and hotly debated Brutalist residential complex, Robin Hood Gardens, is currently being demolished, but not all will be lost. Today, the Victoria and Albert Museum announced that it has acquired a three-story section of the housing estate, which it may display at its new east London location slated to open in 2021.

Designed by Brutalism pioneers Alison and Peter Smithson, the 1972-built complex comprised over 200 affordable apartments, spread across two long concrete slabs with balconies overlooking a garden—like a “street in the sky.” When Robin Hood Gardens was targeted for redevelopment in 2008, scores of architects—such as Zaha Hadid, Richard Rogers, Toyo Ito, and Robert Venturi—voiced support for the campaign to save the building, fending off the bulldozers for while. But in 2012, a new redevelopment scheme for a complex with over 1,500 units was approved and demolition finally commenced this year.

According to the Guardian, the portion salvaged by V&A measures about 29 feet high, 18 feet wide, and 26 feet deep, making up the gutted interiors of an entire maisonette flat. Parts of a concrete stairway, elevated walkway, and a full section of the repeating prefab concrete facade have also been preserved and are awaiting offsite storage.

In an interview with Dezeen, Olivia Horsfall Turner, the museum’s senior curator of designs, had this to say about the rather unusual acquisition:

It's not just the object that we're preserving but it's the issues that we want to keep alive. Because of the controversial nature we're anxious that people see this as a real opportunity to maintain conversations about social housing, about urbanism.

It's something we feel is really important as the role of public museum to keep those conversations going and provide people with compelling objects that they study and experience in order to make those issues real to them."

Via: The Guardian