Robin Hood Gardens (1972), the London housing estate that realized the urban principles of Peter and Alison Smithson, is now in the process of being literally and figuratively deconstructed. As would suit a pair of architects whose professional careers began with musings over the “as found” rubble of postwar London, the Victoria and Albert Museum has stepped in to salvage a three-story section of the structure from the demolition site. The segment, despite the curatorial conservation of its fittings and cabinetry, is no arbitrarily, or even programmatically, determined fragment: it represents a full iteration of the repeated graphic sequence that once formed the building's façade. This pattern of...

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