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The Barbican

January 25, 2012






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In London, I used to work in a tall building right next to the Barbican. The Barbican was opened in 1969, an example of Britain’s “brutalist” architecture designed and built by Chamberlain, Powell and Bon.  It’s an incredible place composed of different parts – most noticeably the 3 tall residential towers (which you’ve seen in my photos many, many times) as well as the lower buildings and grounds.  It’s meant to be an urban oasis, in many respects. The Barbican art gallery shows interesting stuff, they screen films and have live music performances, there is a theatre and music school and a large cafe.  The gardens and hanging plants are stunning in the warmer months.

And of course, the apartments are highly sought after.  The entire thing (including the residential space) is Grade II listed (which means it has protected historical status).  A friend who rented a flat there told me that if you needed to replace a fixture in the kitchen, you sent a request and they brought in another identical fixture from their vast storehouse – it must fit in with the aesthetic of the place.  There’s a great interview/photo spread in Apartamento magazine (issue no. 4) with Mark & Garrrick, who live in an apartment in one of the 3 towers in the Barbican.

I used to walk through the Barbican in the morning and afternoon – on my way to get a sandwich or a coffee or to drop off my film at the lab.  I miss seeing this place every day.

More info about various happenings at the Barbican can be found here.

(thanks to Vic for the reminder that I had these photos to post)

22 Comments
  1. January 25, 2012 9:20 am

    What an amazing building! I think it makes such a difference to one’s day if they are surrounded by interesting things.

  2. January 25, 2012 10:05 am

    that last photos of the balconies is amazing!

    • January 25, 2012 10:05 am

      photo, not photos (though, they’re all great)

  3. January 25, 2012 10:23 am

    I love the symmetry of the last photo.

  4. January 25, 2012 11:45 am

    These are great! The fourth one’s my favorite (:

  5. January 25, 2012 11:54 am

    Top post mate…one of my favourites too as you know.

  6. January 25, 2012 12:40 pm

    I love it. I love that it’s meant to be an oasis but it’s so menacing.

    I love Trellick Tower in Kensington too. I just found out you can visit Erno Goldfinger’s house. I’m going on the weekend.

  7. January 25, 2012 1:12 pm

    A deep pang as I used to walk home from the barbican after college.
    Gorgeous photos as always, Dawn x

  8. January 25, 2012 1:39 pm

    it’s one of my all time favourites. great post, bf.

  9. January 25, 2012 1:46 pm

    Brian,
    We miss you! And the London life. Will email properly soon.
    Elizabeth

  10. January 25, 2012 2:18 pm

    My aunt and uncle used to live in a flat in the Barbican. I wish I’d retained more memory of their place than “this is weird.” Ah, childhood.

    You have to come back and visit soon!

  11. January 25, 2012 2:35 pm

    I bloody adore the Barbican. Your pics have just put me in a London mood; it’s been too long.
    Note to self: plan London trip visiting mates shortly. Thanks for the reminder :)

  12. January 25, 2012 4:38 pm

    I love the look of this building. So nostalgic; so European from I guess, the 1970’s. i feel as I’ve seen influences of it in Spain. Love. Makes me want to travel back in time.

  13. January 25, 2012 9:52 pm

    Oh wow. I love urban planning and architecture that is geared around creating light, air and greenery. It’s a bit of a passion of mine and seeing these photos is just so inspiring. I look forward to reading that article. Here in Australia I am keenly watching with great interest as more new buildings are developed around the concept of integrating live greenery into the design. Just this morning my husband and I walked through a relatively new development again and marvelled at the greenery and shared spaces they’ve created. I will put this building on the list for the next time we visit London.

  14. January 26, 2012 6:51 am

    Hi,
    Funny I have a similar post on my blog, since I live nearby. It’s definitely a unique place. And, this film lab that you mentioned, where is that exactly? I’m still looking for a place to get my film developed in London. Would you recommend this place?

    Thanks!

  15. January 26, 2012 11:02 am

    This place looks so amazing! Love that last photo with all of the plants spilling all over the place.

  16. January 26, 2012 11:32 am

    Babylon in concrete!

  17. January 27, 2012 11:48 am

    Reminds me a bit of the Hyatt Embarcadero in SF – one probably influenced the other, could be the same architecture firm too….

  18. Mark permalink
    January 28, 2012 1:38 am

    I love the Barbican, I used to walk through it to work everyday as well. It is an oasis, and would be if it were in a much smaller city, let alone the bustle of the square mile. I think the thing I love the most about it is the elevated sprawl, like a village suspended above a metropolis. They are tearing down many examples of this style that were built as social housing all over the UK. The Barbican shows what brutalist concrete might be when it is looked after.

  19. January 30, 2012 1:27 am

    I love how raw it looks, would love to check out the interiors as well.

  20. nileta permalink
    January 30, 2012 5:53 am

    london postmodernism is amazing

  21. February 1, 2012 8:11 pm

    i just love the barbican. for so many reasons, but mostly because it’s just such an awesome space. my friend tom lives in one of the apartments. his parents bought it when they were first married, and lived there for years before he was all grown up enough to take it for himself. it’s one of my favourite apartments in london.

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