Conversations, Drawings, Archives & photographs from Robin Hood Gardens
Book launch at RIBA Bookshop
Tuesday 6th October 2015, 6:30 – 8:30
The RIBA Bookshop launches its Autumn events season with the presentation of a new book on Robin Hood Gardens by London based artist Jessie Brennan. Regeneration! Conversations, Drawings, Archives & Photographs from Robin Hood Gardens is a project by the artist seeking to engage the residents of the estate by exploring life in this 1960s symbol of the welfare state.
Robin Hood Gardens has been the subject of much debate since it was first threatened with demolition in 2008. Despite a nation wide campaign backed by Zaha Hadid, Toyo Ito and Richard Rogers amongst many other architects calling to protect the estate, the Brutalist housing complex built by the Smithsons was denied a formal heritage listing, and will be demolished to make way for a brand new development in the Poplar area neighbouring Canary Wharf.
In a recent article for Apollo magazine, the artist described her project on Robin Hood Gardens:
“Debates around the estate’s perceived architectural successes and social failures have often focused only on the buildings – on the need for their preservation or demolition – rather than the feelings of people living within the blocks. They have tended to ignore, and at worst misrepresent, the experiences of the people who know the buildings most intimately.
My project, Regeneration!, attempts to address that imbalance in a small but meaningful way by exploring with residents the qualities of a lived-in Brutalism and the personal impact of redevelopment. It began as a series of recorded interviews with long and short term tenants, developed out of the process of making doormat rubbings – a starting point for engaging conversations. The 78 page book brings these together along with architectural plans and archive images, two series of drawings, a set of photographs by former tenant Abdul Kalam, and two essays: Owen Hatherley’s text charts the political decisions that led to the rise and fall of Robin Hood Gardens; Richard Martin’s essays contextualises the project through an analysis of my artwork – A Fall of Ordinariness and Light (pictured above) – and proposes a broader set of questions around the politics of regeneration.”
Jessie Brennan will engage with Richard Martin, writer and author of The Architecture of David Lynch, and former member of the policy team at CABE, in a conversation about the politics and social and cultural impact behind the process of urban regeneration, drawing on the history of the soon to disappear Robin Hood Gardens estate.