FRAGMENTS OF THE DOMESTIC
URBAN PLEASURE GARDEN
“You never know when a ruin, even a bit of wall, may come in handy”
In post war Britain, Alison and Peter Smithson led British Brutalism; questioning and challenging modernist approaches to urban planning and design, they sought to emphasise functionality and connect architecture with the realities of modern life. This was housing which was not only post war, but post poverty and post slum. For them, everyone had the right to a decent home and Robin Hood Gardens was at the heart of that narrative.
My Pleasure Garden takes the place of a community centre, evolving through time depending on the needs of the people who use it. It caters to the most vulnerable in our society: the children and the elderly. Eventually it descends into ruin, permanently nestled into the site. In the pleasure garden, fragmented elements of Robin Hood Gardens become the material for a new type of spatial construct. Fragments of the domestic become captured inside of the architectural elements, articulated within the walls of the pleasure garden so that the narrative of those who once called Robin Hood Gardens ‘home’ maintains a physical presence on the site. It becomes a space of collective memory, whereby a journey through the garden gives hints to its past life; a net curtain cemented into a structural column, a Lord of the Rings video wedged into a seat. It becomes a subtle protest against the external forces who aim to serve capitalism and profit at the expense of those who have spent their lives on the site.
Drawing made in collaboration with Gabriela MacAllister