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Residence Buffalo vs Robin Hood Gardens.pdf

Residence Buffalo vs Robin Hood Gardens.pdf

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 Nicholas Socrates 4123875Architecture ReflectionsTU DelftComparison of the Architecture Designs of Robin Hood Gardens, London and Residence Buffalo,Paris.IntroductionBoth Fernand Pouillon and the Smithson’s suggests a ‘wanting’ or a ‘need’ to change howarchitecture is conceived of and builtPouillon’s relatively monumental Residence Buffalo was built and acted as a catalyst to transformthe area or at least as a benchmark for Parisian post war social housing regeneration.This essay will also relate between the way the Smithson’s have managed their façade, their “skin” and how Pouillon’s design has dealt with the building surface; whether his design fits inwith the Smithson’s concept of creating a repetitive and non-stylistic façade; in order to create ‘ageneralizing aesthetic’, giving the sense of ‘ordinariness as the norm’.This essay will also touch upon the significance of ‘the tower in the park’, (evident in ResidenceBuffalo as an icon or landmark), and explore the relationships that Residence Buffalo has to theSmithson’s idea of ‘the building as a street’, the building (and its space) as an extension of the public sphere (for the residence).Residence Buffalo consists of 466 rooms, distributed around 5 different spaces.Residence Buffalo reflects and projects the Montrouge districts’ classical and memorablequalities. It is a residential complex with a character of monumentality.The Government launched a major campaign to build social housing from 1954. ResidenceBuffalo was one of the first operations instigated by the Comptoir National Housing Corporation(NLC) (the social housing campaign).The residence was named after the Buffalo Stadium, famous and popular before the SecondWorld War.The architect and urban planner Fernand Pouillon, born 14 May 1912 in Cancon (Lot-et-Garonne)and died at the castle of Belcastel (Aveyron) on 24 July 1986.Pouillon was one of the great builders of the years of the reconstruction after World War II inFrance. Much of his abundant work consists of housing;Fernand Pouillon was an innovative architect, both in his choice of construction methods and hisglobally renowned designs. The buildings that he built were of a relatively low cost, whilst heused quality materials and standards that were relatively high.He was guided by ideas about a precise and organized space and its inclusion in the city. Withinhis housing complexes, he provides a comfort similar to that enjoyed by the richest.His accomplishments are characterized by an insertion into the site, a building mass balance; bornof rigorous harmonic proportions, noble materials and his collaboration with local sculptors, potters and landscapers.He used forms from classical examples, such as; squares, or ‘malls’ (walkways), the plaza andvarious objects of urban furniture, especially the fountain.He paid great attention to the quality of public space that adjusts (almost contrasts) its context; of a rapidly developing high urbanization.
 
 The State policies set out to solve the problem of housing shortages in the context of post-war reconstruction and the succeeding phase of unprecedented demographic growth (the baby boom,the massive rural exodus, and then at the start of the 1960s; the reintegration of two million people from Algeria). All these issues were initially expressed in the building of large collectivestructures, between 1950 and 1970.The marked preference from this period, on for the acquisition of property, for individualhousing; the rejection of the large collective groupings by the middle classes, and modification infamily structures, inspired the first waves of the building of individual housing estates. Themotivations which were offered as reasons for moving ahead are related much more to theconditions of housing (surface, space, cost, the desire to change from renting to propertyownership, and from the collective to the individual), than to a search for the advantages of arural environment.Robin Hood GardensRobin Hood Gardens is a social housing estate build for the Greater London Council. It wasdesigned in the late 1960's and completed in 1972. It is in Popler, East London, and when it was built, it was surrounded by working docks, which closed soon afterwards. Parts of the area arenow very wealthy, whilst others are extremely deprived. Its architects were Alison and Peter Smithson; a husband and wife team who built very few buildings, but had great charisma and aninternational reputation as innovative writers and teachers: their ideas did not only change howindividual buildings look, but also the way our cities are structured. Robin Hood Gardens consistsof two blocks of just over two hundred maisonettes; one block is seven stories high, and the other is ten stories. These blocks are gently canted, so they shelter the central park from the noisyadjacent roads.Robin Hood Gardens is now populated by a largely Bangladeshi community. Many families areliving in cramped two bedroom maissonette apartments.The estate is currently threatened by demolition, as the council wishes to redevelop the wholearea. The 20th Century Society is campaigning to keep the buildings as they believe bothmagnificent piece of architecture, and that they can be refurbished to provide, much needed, goodquality housing. However, Robin Hood Gardens Gardens polarizes opinions; People either loveit, or hate it.Above the garden flats for seniors and families, which have direct access at ground level, theunits are stacked in groups of three floors (three times in the BTS Block and twice in the CTBlock. A very generous covered walkway on the middle floor of each of these groups providesaccess to three different types of maisonettes arranged above and below. The apartment entrancesare shifted to the side of the pedestrian deck, allowing for a sense of privacy. The resulting spacesare intended for flowers or plants, or as a utilities storage space. The maisonette stairs - running tothe crosswalks are located at the covered walkway and, behind the corridor which serves as anadditional buffer zone, lie the kitchens of all the units, and depending on the unit type, a spallroom with a toilet. These spaces like the rooms above and below, are orientated toward thetranquil lawn area in the centre of the complex. They are fitted with glass doors, which open ontoa narrow projected (escape) balcony. The (noisy) living rooms are separated from the bedrooms by the corridor and the bathroom and are located beneath the pedestrian decks. The repetitionimposed by financial constraints has been overcome by the variety of unit types within eachhorizontal and vertical section. Where the building bends is where the stairwell and the storagerooms are housed.It has many of the qualities good Georgian or Terrace Housing has, which is an order about it,from the base to the parapet, and the proportions are similar in the sense that they play a rhythm; by designing one bay and repeating it (to fill its urban context). The variation, which is overlaid
 
on top of it, makes it that little more bit interesting, with the large mullions for each of thedwellings.DescriptionThe Smithson's wanted to create something radical in response to the usual Post War Housingregenerations.
The Smithson’s approached each new design problem with no formalistic preconceptions and  solved each problem by taking it back to the first principles. “Their aim is always to create animage that will convince and compel. When they demand that every building must be a prototype,an exemplar, for the cities of the future, they intend this not only to be read functionally, but visually too.”
1
 
The Smithson’s intention, and one of their main duties (thought their career) was to provideorder.The Smithson’s were the Fathers of the New Brutalism and were probably the greatest influenceof the Modern Movement in Britain after the 2nd World War.
2
 This New Brutalism was opposed to 'the Picturesque' or the imposed Classicism, but was a designwhich was inherent to each situation New Brutalism was a major influence development of the modern movement – its main practitioner is Le Corbusier starting with the Unité.
3
 The core of these ideas had been put into place in their 1952 competition entry for the GoldenLane Housing project. A sense of community they argued could be re-introduced — or re-identified—around the ordering device of ‘street decks’. All kinds of communal activities plusindividual yard-gardens connected to these streets in the air transforming them into places.
4
 They utilized a similar technique employing a construction rack into which individual dwellingswere inserted similar to Corbusier’s UnitéFor the Smithson’s, their Brutalist ethic revolved around their duty to discover indigenoussolutions for a particular place at a particular time.With each new building they proposed a new order.Their forms were designed as a direct response to the specific site and program.Their Brutalist principle of specificity to each situation was a great challenge to the notion of Team 10's four functions, which was a central principle of the CIAM's Athens
 
Charter in 1928

1
METRAUX, G. 1969. BOOKS-Livres, Team 10 Primer. Leonardo.
2
201-204 UK. The MIT Press.
317.
 
2
WEBSTER, H. 1997.
 Modernism Without Rhetoric; Essays on the work of Alison and Peter Smithson.
AcademyEditions. London. 142.
3
SMITHSONA,&P.
1952-1960.
Ordinariness and Light: Urban Theories 1952- 1960.
London. Faber andFaber 42.
4
SMITHSONA,&P.
1952-1960.
Ordinariness and Light: Urban Theories 1952- 1960.
London. Faber andFaber 44.

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