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A tale of two different kinds of Brutalism

This article from the Guardian about two Brutalist housing estates in London is now more than five years old. But the story is perhaps just as interesting. The article is about two “New Brutalism” estates that were designed and built in the 1960s and 1970s.

The first is the Barbican Estate (which appeared recently on the blog over here) and the second is Robin Hood Gardens (pictured above, partially). Both were designed by notable architects and both have been equally divisive when it comes to their aesthetic appeal. We’re talking about Brutalism. So it’s likely that you either love them or hate them.

One of the big differences between these two housing complexes is that one is a private estate and the other is (or was) social housing. And perhaps because of this, the Barbican has remained desirable and Robin Hood Gardens was ultimately demolished starting in 2017. This is despite numerous outcries from the architecture and design community that it should be both preserved and listed.

We could get into questions of funding and maintenance, as well as the design differences between the two complexes (I don’t have any of these details), but even without all of this, I find these two divergent outcomes pretty interesting. Architecture, it would seem, isn’t everything.

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