Residential complex “Robin hood gardens”, London, United Kingdom (1969-1972)
Residential complex “Robin hood gardens” in London — another ambitious social project. To communicate with him the rainbow of hope and its authors are the architects Peter and Alison Smithson, officials, and residents themselves. The story of “Robin hood gardens” shows features of late modernism, in particular, one of its forms called “new brutalism”.
The history of the new brutalism began in 1950-ies, when several young architects who called themselves the “Group of 10” (Team Ten), decided to discuss the mistakes of their predecessors. Members of the group
I wanted to return the city to the people. They were fascinated by the reports on the life and structure of African villages, primitive art, children’s creativity — in short, all that is returned to the natural human relations and the direct perception of life.
The term “new brutalism” comes from the French phrase béton brut — literally “rough, raw concrete.” Brutality talked about the need for the honest use of materials, a true reflection of the design in the structure of the building. Exposed to the harsh gray concrete turned out to be very flexible and effective tool, emphasizing the expressive form of the building and its tectonic framework. The technique, borrowed from the later projects, Le Corbusier, has become a distinctive feature of the new flow.
In the UK the leaders of the new brutalism of Peter and Alison Smithson. In 1952 they published their project “Golden-lane” (“Golden Lane”) — the concept of the street in the air (street in the air), active involvement in the architectural context of the space between the buildings, that is, functions that go beyond architectural form. With streets in the air, the architects tried to repeat the principle of a traditional urban structure of the English suburbs.
In “Robin hood gardens” wide hallways, like a deck, combine the apartment, located in a long residential building. The complex consists of two buildings, between them, is a small man-made hill. Apartments — one or two floors, and on every third floor — large balconies — area, invented for children to play and neighborhood communication.
However, the fascination tectonic effects turned the building into a monolithic closed and inaccessible volume. In this severity, which the architects of the new brutalism seemed to be honesty, and later began to see only the rude. With the end in the UK welfare policy, all talking about the fact that late modernism has caused irreparable damage to English architecture: it ignored the context and did not take into account the urban everyday life. As a result of the demonization of the new brutalism in Britain was demolished a bus station in Northampton, residential complex “HaGaT estate” in London, tower “Queen Elizabeth Square” in Glasgow. The fate of many buildings, including “Robin hood gardens”, is still a subject of debate.
Capsule tower “Nakagin”, Tokyo, Japan (1970-1972)
Perhaps a huge number of fantastic urban projects 1950-60-ies as evidence of the desire as soon as possible to get in the future honored the long suffering and many mistakes. This escapism has become a very fruitful direction of architectural thought.
The architects proceeded from the fact that instead of homo economics, that is, the average modern consumer, must come homo lens — the playing man. The new architecture was not to prejudge the actions, but rather to inspire residents to participate in spontaneous events and actions. The authors of this idea, members of the French “Situationist international”
considered the city as the intersection of varied emotional and play areas. Imagining the city, living according to these laws, the architects wrote megacities, where all circulating at the same pace, and for any auxiliary functions meet the robots. In most of these projects, the city is either elevated above the ground or barely in contact with her. Man, no longer tied to the place of work and is not fettered by social obligations, it remains only to travel, to enjoy, to create.
In a city without a clear plan and functions, the architecture had to be extremely mobile and transformable. Japanese theory of metabolism, which became popular in the late 1950-ies, came very close to destroying this principle of openness of an architectural project. 13-storey tower “Nakagin” architect Kisho Kurokawa are among the few implemented projects metabolites. In fact, it is two concrete core, around which gathered 140 residential capsules. According to the plan capsules are manufactured in the factory and, if necessary, easily replaced (still all the elements of the tower — the original and neither one capsule was added to the project or replaced). Concrete cell measuring 4 by 2.5 meters fixed to the concrete frame by only four bolts. Inside — minimum required situation: a closet, a tiny kitchen, toilet, shower, air conditioning.
Contrary to expectations, most of the capsule is occupied by offices. Live in the container was not very convenient, and “Nakagin” did not become the basis for the development of the city of the future. Giant viewport window is a reminder that, perhaps, in the world of homo lens flat-Shuttle would have been called for, but the realities of the traditional metropolis constraint and austerity soon became a disadvantage. In 2007, the residents voted to demolish the building, but due to active resistance of architectural historians and Curacavi was decided to restrict the reconstruction of the tower.