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When Lord Rogers launched a campaign to save one of London’s most notorious housing estates from demolition, he was adamant that it was a desirable place to live.
Robin Hood Gardens in east London is “the best piece of social and architectural thinking in the last 50 years”, Britain’s foremost architect declared. Asked in an interview yesterday if he would live there himself, Lord Rogers replied: “Absolutely.”
It is a claim he may regret. Unhappy residents of the estate have challenged the peer to be true to his word and swap his £12 million Chelsea townhouse for a few nights in one of their blighted flats.
Lord Rogers’ own living arrangements could not be more different from those of Robin Hood residents. He and his wife, the River Café founder Ruth Rogers, have one of London’s most desirable addresses close to the King’s Road.
The Grade II-listed property consists of two houses knocked together, with floors taken out to create a cavernous space featuring a mezzanine-level library and industrial steel staircases.
The most important thing in a home is “space, space, space”, he has said of the house. “I love space. The luxury of life is space. Space and light and a view – those are the key things.”
That luxury is not afforded to residents of the estate in Poplar. Designed by Alison and Peter Smithson, who envisaged “streets in the sky”, it opened in 1972 and is now in a state of disrepair. […]