Assumptions and Consequences: A contextual feminist analysis of the ‘failure’ of Robin Hood Gardens
Undergraduate Dissertation by Hannah Back, University of Cambridge, 2022.
Robin Hood Gardens, designed by Peter and Alison Smithson, completed in 1972, has been employed as a site for a contextualised critical feminist analysis. Since its inception Robin Hood Gardens has been a contentious building. From an architectural perspective it was critiqued for failing to progress the ideas of Modernism, a central tenet to a forward-looking movement (Zeifman, 2015; Hatherley, 2012). Through its residency it was also perceived to fail socially, with high crime rates and low desirability (English, 2014), however this essay focuses its critical analysis on the failures of the design rather than on the period of inhabitation. This dissertation draws on feminist discourses and criticisms (explored in Chapter One), specifically those proposed by the Matrix Collective (1980-1990), Jos Boys and Beatriz Colomina, to investigate the ‘male-as-norm’ patterning within Robin Hood Gardens’ design (Chapter Two), and the spatial impact of this patterning on its female inhabitants (Chapter Three). The feminist analysis is temporally contextualised to the decade of Robin Hood Gardens’ construction (1972), the contextualisation was revealed to be the most significant factor to gaining a true insight into a feminist’s perspective of its failures.
Hannah Back holds a degree in architecture from the University of Cambridge. To find out more about her work and research you can contact her at Hback121@gmail.com