The Disappearance of Robin Hood

London, 1972 – the city is growing, and with it the need to house working populations. Post-war values of social welfare make experimenting with new forms of housing possible, ushering in an era of modernist, utopian projects. Among the most daring and innovative, Peter and Alison Smithson’s Robin Hood Gardens estate.

The echoes of experts and decision-makers are heard as we explore the corridors of Robin Hood – their voices, like dissonant radio waves, take turns in expounding the values of the estate, while also arguing about its reputation, significance, and future. Meanwhile, intimate portraits of residents express the emotional, humorous, and complex story of the project. Mixing documentary and fiction storytelling, we piece the history of the Robin Hood Gardens estate gradually, from its initial transformation of industrial land into an idyllic, leafy neighbourhood, to its eventual re-configuration of street life into a vertical context, before turning to the contemporary reality.

Less than 50 years later, London is a very different place. The incessantly growing city, powered by financial capital, dissolves the previous generation’s social housing projects, re-development by re-development. An emerging steel-and-glass skyline defines the new norms of housing, rendering notions of social welfare more akin to history rather than to embodied policy. The question arises: where has Robin Hood gone?