A PORTRAIT OF ROBIN HOOD GARDENS & THE DUAL CITY
by Gabriela Mac'Allister
In a scenario where Robin Hood Gardens’ east block is protected, and the skeleton of Blackwall Reach regeneration is intervened with vertical gardens; The Pleasure Garden invites the community to build a place they can call their own, and welcome decanted residents back. Reminiscent of the estate’s own world, where new families were welcomed with feasts, couples married in the landings, children played tirelessly in the garden and food was grown in the front yard; the garden provides a communal kitchen, growing beds, a planting and stargazing tower. A celebration of Whitechapel’s cultural diversity, the performing arts centre embodies the complexities of its context, welcoming the community to dance and spoken word performances, educational workshops where cultural expressions are central, and a traditional food restaurant. The performance shields the project’s dual nature, ensuring the refuge for survivors of domestic abuse remains a secret, nourishing space, where dance is an essential part of healing. The project responds to the rising political movements in Whitechapel over the 19th century, supporting the Toynbee Hall, Whitechapel Gallery and Freedom Press in their original intent of making art and education accessible to all.