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V&A to salvage wreckage for Venice Architecture Biennale

A fragment of the Robin Hood Gardens housing estate salvaged from the demolition site by London’s V&A museum is to be transported to Italy and displayed at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale.

The V&A acquired a three-storey section of the estate last year in addition to the fragment it will take to Venice when demolition work on the brutalist social housing estate began.

I love this type of gesture for museums and especially ones that pride themselves on architecture and design be the guardians and caretakers of history, but actually, save a piece of it and reconstruct it for other to experience on the world stage.

This is what traditional museums have been doing for years. Excavating the tombs of kings and putting them on display for the public to look at. But what if the future of the museum is to save our contemporary pieces of the urban city. In a time when development is booming and the historic legacy of the city is demolished for high-density housing, there is an opportunity to do what the V&A is attempting to do, pre-cast concrete elements from the facade of the building erected over a scaffold structure.

The bittersweet circularity of the exhibition has entitled the show as A Ruin In Reverse.

“Robin Hood Gardens: A Ruin In Reverse asks the questions that face all of us about the future of social housing,” said museum’s director, Tristam Hunt. “The case of Robin Hood Gardens is arresting because it embodied such a bold vision for housing provision yet less than fifty years after its completion it is being torn down,” added exhibition curators Olivia Horsfall Turner and Christopher Turner.

“Out of the ruins of Robin Hood Gardens, we want to look again at the Smithson’s original ideals and ask how they can inform and inspire current thinking about social housing.”

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