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A Duplex of London's Public Housing Will Become a Museum Exhibit

The Victoria and Albert Museum will conserve a chunk of the Robin Hood Gardens estate—a symbolic death knell for the ethos behind the city’s postwar public housing.
Robin Hood Gardens in a dilapidated state just prior to demolition
Robin Hood Gardens in a dilapidated state just prior to demolitionV&A Press Office

Lovers of both social housing and 20th-century architecture have been fretting about the fate of East London’s Robin Hood Gardens for years. A public housing project and Brutalist icon completed in 1972, the estate (as projects are called in the U.K.) has been run-down and facing demolition for some time, targeted by a local borough that wants to replace it with denser, more profitable housing.

Yesterday, some dramatic news came. Robin Hood Gardens will in a sense remain alive—just not in a way that anyone could have predicted. Wrecking balls will still level the place (a process that’s already begun), and new housing will still spring up in its place. But a 26-foot-high chunk of the building, comprising one duplex apartment, will now enjoy a strange second life.